Tag: utah news

Surveillance video shows woman run over by UPD Patrol Car

Surveillance video shows woman run over by UPD Patrol Car

SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a woman who was killed after being run over by a Unified Police patrol car, is suing the department, the officer and several others involved in the incident.

On March 5, officers were called to a welfare check in a Millcreek strip mall after a person was seen sleeping in the parking lot.

The person was 23-year-old Cindreia Europe.

One of the responding officers didn’t see Cindreia and ran over the young woman.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney declined to file charges against the officer.

Over the course of the investigation, the officer delivered a recorded statement.

“I felt something under my car,” she told investigators. “I thought to myself, this feels like, I wonder if I hit a trash bag or a pile of snow.”

The officer claimed she didn’t realize she hit a person until the car ran over the woman a second time.

“I was going so slow that I pushed on my gas just a tiny bit to get over what I thought was snow,” the officer told investigators.

FOX13 learned the officer, who had at least seven at-fault auto accidents in her previous job with West Valley City Police, is currently employed by the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The family of the victim filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday, claiming the officer, Unified Police, West Valley City Police, and the Valley Emergency Communications Center acted with negligence.

“It’s scary to me that an officer could not notice running over an individual,” said Eric Hinckley, the lawyer representing Cindreia’s family. “She wasn’t watching where she was going and this resulted in her running over Cindreia.”

Hinckley believes West Valley City Police had a duty to inform UPD about the officer’s driving record.

“We believe Unified Police Department either didn’t ask or weren’t told about that terrible driving history,” Hinckley said.

The lawsuit does not specify the number of damages the family is seeking.

Because the officer was never charged with a crime, FOX13 is choosing to not identify her.

Unified Police and Valley Emergency Communications Center declined to comment on the lawsuit because of the pending litigation. West Valley City Police did not immediately return a request for comment.

An unedited version of the surveillance video can be found at this link.  Warning:  Graphic Content.

Video shows officers running over woman

Utah doctors can recommend medical cannabis, but patients struggle to find those willing to

HERRIMAN, Utah — Leah McClellan is on hospice.

The 8-year-old girl is diagnosed with a rare condition called SCN8A.

“Bottom line? It’s a complicated neurological disorder and as a result she has several failures in her body. She’s in a lot of pain often,” said her father, Chad McClellan.

“As a mother watching your daughter suffering, it’s the worst thing,” added her mother, April.

After years of trying different medications, her family finally turned to medical cannabis to relieve her pain and seizures.

“We love our doctors and they’re so supportive and I know they wanted it for Leah, but their hands were tied,” April said.

It’s been nearly a year since Utah’s largest health care companies announced they would allow physicians to begin recommending medical cannabis to qualifying patients. However, FOX 13 has found, many of those patients say they are struggling to find a physician willing to go there. Health care company representatives say it will take time to educate doctors about the new substance.

How many recommendations have been issued?

FOX 13 asked each of the major health care companies how many recommendations for medical cannabis they have made.

University of Utah Health Care, which also covers the Huntsman Cancer Institute, said it had issued 230 through September.

Intermountain Healthcare said 125 of its physicians had issued just over 500 recommendation letters.

MountainStar Medical Group would only say its physicians certify that a patient is “qualified” but would not answer whether actual recommendations are issued.

Desiree Hennessy, the director of the Utah Patients Coalition (which sponsored Proposition 2 that legalized medical marijuana in Utah), said there are thousands of patients actively seeking medical cannabis recommendations.

“It has been really frustrating to me because the whole point to me was to stop patient suffering, and they’re continuing it,” she said.

Under Utah law, qualifying patients need what’s called an “affirmative defense” letter in order to help avoid prosecution for marijuana possession. It acts as a sort-of “get out of jail free” card that a patient can show if stopped with select types of marijuana product. They take it to court and, theoretically, prosecutors or a judge would dismiss the charges (medical cannabis advocates say it doesn’t always work).

Until Utah gets its medical cannabis dispensary program up and running, how qualifying patients obtain that marijuana is on them. Some cross state lines to recreational cannabis states like Nevada and Colorado. Others go to a drug dealer on the black market.

The McClellans said they tried for months to get a letter for Leah.

“They just kept apologizing. ‘We’re trying, we’re trying. We’re so sorry.’ I told my husband, ‘We’ve got to move on,’” said April.

They finally found another neurologist who was willing to give Leah a letter — outside her regular doctors.

Five different doctors and still no letter

The McClellans aren’t the only ones FOX 13 has encountered with this problem. Krista Bowers has been diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

“I even qualify under the legislature’s watered down cannabis bill,” she said. “Definitely under the first one the voters passed!”

Bowers said she has gone to numerous doctors to seek a recommendation to use medical cannabis as a treatment option.

“I went to IHC and the U, five different doctors all verbatim told me the exact same thing. ‘We don’t know enough about it, there’s not enough research, we don’t feel comfortable recommending it,’” Bowers told FOX 13.

She has started using a CBD oil with a small amount of THC that she obtained illegally, out of state. She said it has helped her sleep and controlled her pain.

“I guess it’s technically illegal for me to do it. It helps me. I’m not going to be in pain just because of the law,” Bowers said.

Hennessy said she knows of about 10 doctors who willingly recommend medical cannabis. She said she tries to help patients work with their personal physicians to get an affirmative defense letter. Looking elsewhere can get costly.

“To talk to a patient that’s already downing in medical bills and say, ‘Do you have another $200?’” Hennessy said.

Why doctors may be reluctant to recommend cannabis

One physician open about his willingness to recommend cannabis is Dr. Andrew Talbott. He said some of his colleagues may be reluctant for many reasons.

“They’ve been taught this is a dangerous drug for so many years, incorrectly. That’s number one,” he said. “Number two is there’s many pressures, within the medical field and outside the medical field, and to avoid prescribing what’s a dangerous drug.”

Physicians are also prohibited from advertising they do recommend medical cannabis, and others do not feel existing Utah law offers sufficient protections to them from prosecution or liability, Dr. Talbott said.

“I think many physicians are afraid to come out of the cannabis closet, so to speak,” he said.

Christine Stenquist, the founder of Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE), also gets calls from people seeking a physician willing to recommend cannabis. She believes the current Utah law does not offer enough protections for doctors or patients.

“We’re having a real issue in this state with how our legislation is written and a real issue with education in our medical community,” she said.

Stenquist said physicians report confusion about when the law actually takes effect.

“There is still confusion about what is legal. I’ve been told the law isn’t legal until 2020 and that is inaccurate,” she said.

TRUCE is currently suing the state over the bill that replaced voter-approved Prop. 2 (and Dr. Talbott is a co-plaintiff).

Intermountain says ‘we’re committed to this’

Dr. Mark Briesacher, the chief of physicians for Intermountain Healthcare, said it is taking time for doctors to learn about cannabis and get comfortable recommending it to qualifying patients.

“There’s the passion of wanting to help people and the discipline of making sure that what we’re doing is the right thing,” he told FOX 13. “There’s the balance here, and that’s what we’re experiencing.”

Dr. Briesacher said the number of recommendation letters Intermountain Healthcare had issued is higher than he expected since they started allowing it. He said he understands patients who are frustrated—but he also hears from physicians who want to really understand how cannabis works for patients.

“When you hear the stories of the people who are caught in the middle, that’s what kind of pulls at the heart,” he said, speaking of patient complaints. “You want to help people. We are absolutely committed to this.”

Stenquist and Hennessy both said their groups have been talking to health care companies to get them educated about the new law and how cannabis can be a treatment. But both questioned if health care companies were moving fast enough.

“They say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to recommend,’ then you talk to the patients that go there and they say, ‘Oh, my doctor didn’t want to or they want to wait until there’s dispensaries in Utah,’” Hennessy said.

The affirmative defense letters are also only a temporary measure. Once Utah’s medical cannabis program is up and running by its scheduled start date of March 2020 — those go away. Then, physicians will have patient caps.

Stenquist, who is critical of the replacement law, fears it will make things worse. She urged people to continue to pressure lawmakers to make changes to the medical cannabis program.

“We have a program that was set up, born in fear and designed to fail,” she said. “And it will continue to fail until we get on board with what patients actually need.”

Medical cannabis advocates have also noted that with a small number of physicians recommending cannabis, it’s created something lawmakers didn’t want: “pot doctors.”

A plea for patience

Michelle McOmber, the CEO of the Utah Medical Association, said there needs to be patience.

“This is a brand new medication, as it were,” she said. “This is something that hasn’t gone through the FDA process. It’s new to Utah.”

McOmber said physicians are trying to get educated. Many doctors may want to know how it works with other medications or they may not feel it’s right for their patient, even if it is newly available.

“Because a patient wants something, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily appropriate,” McOmber said. “And that’s going to be something the patient and provider has to determine.”

Dr. Talbott said physicians also cannot be forced to recommend cannabis.

“You cannot force physicians to practice any certain type of medicine or make available any certain type of therapies. All you can do is encourage them, educate them, and try to protect them,” he said.

The McClellans said they believe health care companies could do more.

“California’s had medical marijuana for 20 years. It’s not like there’s no data about this. Patients deserve help and they’re dragging their feet as if it’s never happened in any other state or environment,” Chad McClellan said.

They said Leah’s quality of life has improved significantly since she began using a CBD oil with a small amount of THC. She no longer needs rescue meds and her seizures have declined.

Bowers, who was using cannabis illegally, finally got a letter after seeing six different doctors. Under the law, she is now “legal,” but she is still frustrated.

“People shouldn’t have to go through so much problems to get medicine,” she said.

Dr. Briesacher said he encouraged qualifying patients to continue to have conversations with their physicians and involve patient advocates if they feel cannabis is an option for them.

Jon Huntsman Jr. expected to announce entry into 2020 governor’s race

SALT LAKE CITY—Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. is expected to announce Thursday that he will run once again for governor in 2020, multiple sources tell FOX 13.

Huntsman will be in Cedar City at Southern Utah University, where he is expected to make an announcement. The news was first reported by the political website, UtahPolicy.com.

Huntsman was governor of Utah from 2005 until 2009 when he resigned to become the United States ambassador of China. He then left the post to run for president of the United States in 2012. Huntsman, who most recently was the U.S ambassador to Russia, moved back to Utah in early October.

When Huntsman first left his post in 2009, his then-Lt. Governor Gary Herbert was elevated to governor. Gov. Herbert has signaled his support for his lieutenant, Spencer Cox, who is seeking the GOP nomination.

Huntsman will be joining a heavy Republican field in the race for Utah governor. Besides Cox, those running for the GOP nomination include businessman Jeff Burningham and Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton. Others considered to be running for the seat include Attorney General Sean Reyes, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, retiring Rep. Rob Bishop, real estate executive Thomas Wright and businessman Spence Eccles.

UTA bus driver warms hearts, hands of homeless

SALT LAKE CITY— Each day David Cody Bryant rides the same UTA bus route. He’s been a bus driver for seven years now. He has seen all kinds of people get on and off his bus.

“I think there are a lot of us out there that are just one mishap, one hospital bill away from being homeless or without,” he said.

As the temperatures drop each year, he sees even more people struggling. Last year, he had an idea that changed everything.

“I have a weird moment where I’m putting away laundry, pull open my drawer and I’ve got these wool socks sitting in there that I probably haven’t worn in two years and I’m like ‘dumb’ those could be on feet, saving toes somewhere,” David said.

He calls his initiative “cover the cold.” Last year, he posted on Facebook and received hundreds of dollars in donations. This year, he has already raised more than a thousand dollars.

“When we thought of this whole idea to be able to do what we can with what we have, then you realize that you don’t need as much as you think you do to help,” Lindsey Bryant, David’s wife, said.

Quickly other people pitched in to help, including their children. They made care packages filled with warm necessities like socks, gloves, scarves and snacks to hand out to those in need. The care packages also have a personal touch.

“My son got right on board with that and colored little pictures and little notes to put in there.” Lindsey said.

David, along with UTA officers, handed out the care packages. They will do the same thing this year, just on a larger scale, David said.

Helping others has changed the Bryants’ lives and taught them to be grateful for everything they have, Lindsey said.

“We are struggling ourselves and that’s the truth but there’s always someone that’s in a worse situation than us,” she said.

The family will begin making the care packages, along with some high school students, in early December.

For more information on how to donate, click here

No ‘Snowpocalypse,’ Instagram memes spur alpine school district to change snow day policy

AMERICAN FORK, Utah—Video from the Alpine District Snow Day Instagram page, that had at least 7,000 followers earlier this year, when school districts across the State had a snow day and their district did not, it spurred the district to make some changes.

Something, parents in the area said is a relief.

“I remember getting on the road and the roads weren’t plowed, and it was crazy,” said Genifer Bacher who had one child with the district this past school year.

Bacher remembers the chaos of February 6 as “snowpocalypse,” and students remember it as the day they did not have a snow day.

“You kind of have the grand scope of things and you think, wow, why didn’t they close the school down?” said Bacher.

Students took to Instagram, creating an account with memes about how they were braving the cold, and even created a GoFundMe with a petition writing, “this day will live in infamy.”

“It made us feel, as parents, does the school district really care about our students? Do they care about the safety of our students?” said Bacher.

Kimberly Bird with the Alpine School District said the new plans announced Tuesday night, show they do care about student and teacher safety.

“We have a system that will alert everyone of the decision made,” said Bird.

With the district’s student alert system, every parent is given the opportunity to sign up for, sends texts, emails or calls from the school.

With the new policy, Bird said they will alert students if school has been delayed two hours, will get out early, or is completely canceled.

“When we know about weather the night before we’re going to give an advisory to our staff that it’s likely we’ll call a delayed start,” said Bird. “We also have a portion of our policy that would say if something happens in the morning, we’d make a call around 5 AM.”

The large area Alpine School District covers, varies in how much snow each school will get. Bird said, they have a new communication plan that would allow them to cancel or change school schedules in clusters, instead of district-wide.

The new policy also has a communication plan for bus drivers.

“We have one of the largest bus fleets in the state,” said Bird.

Different areas will have certain bus drivers who know how to handle the weather conditions specific to that location. Each bus driver is provided with chains for their tires and a fog strobe light for the top of their bus.

“All of the feedback that’s come from the parents and even the funny memes from students, it’s helped us make some improvements to our policy and practice,” said Bird.

Gas leak prompts evacuation of the Cathedral of the Madeleine

SALT LAKE CITY— A gas leak in the 400 east block of South Temple has caused the evacuation of the Cathedral of the Madeleine as a precaution, according to Salt Lake City Police Department.

Salt Lake City Fire Department is investigating the scene.

Dana Peterson Sr. Communications Director with Dominion Energy says a contractor bored into an underground gas line, causing the leak.  Peterson says that crews are on scene and having some difficulties pinpointing exactly where the leak is coming from.

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story. Stay with Fox 13 for the latest updates.

Rep. Stewart blasts ‘weak’ impeachment case during public hearing

WASHINGTON — Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, used his few minutes in the spotlight of the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump to boil the whole issue down to a single phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s leader, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

“There is one sentence, one phone call,” Stewart said. “That is what this entire impeachment proceeding is, basically. And I got to tell you, if your impeachment case is so weak that you have to lie and exaggerate about it to convince the American people that they need to remove this president, then you’ve got a problem.”

The impeachment inquiry, of course, involves more than a rough transcript of the single phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Wednesday’s hearing focused on testimony by two career State Department officials who raised concerns about a shadow foreign policy move by Trump to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as well as debunked allegations that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Click here to read the full story from The Salt Lake Tribune.

Narwhal the ‘unicorn puppy’ is happy and healthy, shelter says

JACKSON, Mo. – A puppy saved by a Missouri dog rescue organization is going viral over the extra tail he has on his face.

Mac’s Mission specializes in helping homeless dogs have a birth defect, are injured or abused. They posted this update about the Narwhal the puppy to their Facebook page today:

“The million dollar question about Narwhals extra tail on his face. Is it connected and does it wag? The extra tail is not connected to anything and has no real use other than making him the COOLEST PUPPY EVER!

One of our followers said, “It appears they assembled the puppy wrong. Always follow the directions people!”

This is a true experience of having “extra parts” during assembly. Dr. Heuring said there is no real reason at this time for the unicorn tail to be removed (and we all wish it wagged)!! Pretty sure the staff at Cape Small also gushed all over this little nugget!

The unicorn face tail does not bother Narwhal and he never slows down just like any normal puppy. He seems completely healthy other than some usual puppy worms he got meds for.

The shelter said in the post they wanted Narwhal to grow more and to make sure that the extra tail did not become a problem.

If you are interested in helping Narwhal or any of the other dogs at the shelter, click here.

You can get updates on Narwhal by checking out Mac the Pittbull’s Facebook page.

Mystery surrounds vintage ring found in antique dresser

ARVADA, Colo. – A Colorado woman hopes someone can help her find the owner of a unique ring.

Joyce Persson found the old ring hidden inside a piece of antique furniture she purchased in the early 2000s. She bought the dresser from Upscale Resale, a now-closed store in Arvada, Colorado.

She found the ring inside one of the drawers.

“When I took the drawer out to clean and as I was wiping it down, the ring fell out. I immediately began to wonder, ‘How old is this ring? Where did it come from? Who wore it? What is their life story?'” she told KDVR.

The ring included an inscription with the letters “F. A. P.” and the numbers “12-30.”

“Every person has a story, and I suppose every piece of jewelry worn by that person has a story too,” Persson said.

She rushed back to the furniture store, but it had closed without warning, so she shoved the ring in a drawer and forgot about it. She rediscovered the ring this week.

This time, Persson drove the ring to a jewelry store.

Dave Purdy is co-owner of D&K Jewelers in Wheat Ridge. He believes the ring dates back to the 1930s. He says the stone is man-made, likely not worth a whole lot in terms of money, but likely priceless in terms of sentimental value.

“The thing that bothers me is it has a date that says “12-30″ and that could be Dec. 30 or December of 1930, so who knows?” Purdy said.

Persson hopes the time stamp is a clue that will unlock the story behind the ring.

“It’s more than a piece of jewelry to somebody, it’s a symbol – a symbol of enduring love or of a lifetime achievement,” Persson said.

Anyone who knows the ring’s rightful owner should contact problemsolvers@kdvr.com

Semitrailer hauling granite slabs overturns in Spanish Fork

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — A semitrailer rollover is causing a backup in Spanish Fork Wednesday.

The Utah Highway Patrol reports a semitrailer hauling granite slabs overturned at the southbound I-15 interchange to eastbound U.S. Highway 6.

According to the Utah Department of Transportation, the crash has forced officials to close the right lane of the interchange.

No one was injured in the crash.