Suspect says the woman who died was acting ‘lovey dovey’ with him, causing him to crash.
| March 30, 2022, 2:32 p.m.
A Herriman man has been charged with killing a woman in a car crash he originally blamed on a friend.
Samuel Andrew Rockwell, 26, was charged Tuesday in 3rd District Court with automobile homicide and obstructing justice, third-degree felonies; reckless driving, a class-B misdemeanor; not having insurance on a vehicle and having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, class-C misdemeanors; and speeding, an infraction.
According to the charges, early on the morning of Sept. 4, Riverton police were called to a single car crash at about 13400 S. Bangerter Highway. Rockwell and another man received minor injuries, and a woman in the back seat of the car was killed. Police reported that the two men had extricated themselves from the wrecked car, and that they “pointed to each other as the driver.” Neither witnesses nor UDOT cameras were able to determine who had been driving.
Police later determined that the car, which was registered to the second man, had been traveling north on Bangerter at about 116 mph when turned into southbound-to-eastbound turn lanes, veered across a concrete lane divider, flipped over a concrete median barrier and came to rest in a field, striking a sign post and a traffic light pole before crashing through a chain link fence and hitting a raised concrete platform.
Police initially believed the second man was the driver. He was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County jail. When he was taken into custody, he said, “Can’t believe Sam is making me take the fall for this,” according to police.
At about 11 p.m. that same day, police said that Rockwell arrived at the Riverton Police Department. When officers met him in the parking lot, he “stated unprompted … that he was, in fact, the driver” in the deadly crash. According to charging documents, Rockwell went on to tell police that the other man was a front-seat passenger. He said the woman in the back seat was being “lovey dovey” with him just before the crash. She pulled his face toward hers, Rockwell said, and he drifted into the center median and lost control of the car.
According to police, Rockwell said he was telling them the truth because it wasn’t right that the other man was in jail, and that he’d blamed his friend because he was afraid, he knew the victim was dead and he knew he would lose his job. Police said forensic tests later confirmed Rockwell was the driver, and that his blood alcohol level was 0.17 – more than three times the legal limit.
As of Wednesday morning, Rockwell’s first court appearance has not yet been scheduled.