Drunk driver faces homicide charges

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    By Carolyn Lund

    The driver that sparked a chain-reaction pileup in Salt Lake City earlier this month was cited for driving under the influence and could possibly face automobile homicide charges.

    The accident, which killed five people and injured several others, involved four separate collisions and stretched more than a mile down the freeway.

    The DUI citation is the third for Andrew Eugene Hooper, 62, who was also charged in 1986 and 1996.

    Hooper was entering Interstate 80 via the 7200 West off ramp when he steered his 1997 Toyota Corolla into eastbound traffic around 10:30 a.m., according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

    Hooper collided with a 1991 Saturn that carried four people ? two of which died within days from impact injuries.

    Robie Dalrymple, 40, then drove a semi-truck into some waiting cars, damaging nine of them and causing the deaths of three more people. It is unclear why Dalrymple did not slow down.

    A fourth accident reportedly occurred behind the semi-truck.

    Now investigators are focusing their efforts on piecing back together the events and their causes. Computer technology is aiding in creating a working model of the impact to determine who was at fault, according to the Tribune.

    ?It?s a very complicated scene,? Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Doug McCleve told the Tribune last week.

    According to the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, the state of Utah has consistently had the fewest drunk driving related deaths in the United States from 1998 to 2003.

    Driving under the influence accounts for approximately 17,000 deaths in the country per year.

    The U.S. Department of Transportation reported in 2001 that about three in every 10 Americans will be involved in alcohol-related crashes in their lifetimes.

    In 2002, alcohol-related traffic accidents killed 71 Utahns. That number dropped to 46 a year later, marking the largest ever decrease in the number of lives lost due to drunk driving, according to an article in the Deseret News.

    ?Most of us get in the car, and we drive and we never have an incident,? McCleve told the Tribune. ?I hope it?s a wake-up call for everybody to rethink the process [of driving] and re-engage your commitment to yourself and others on the road.?

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