TOQUERVILLE – New information was released Thursday about events that occurred Sunday night when a vehicle left a dirt road near Toquerville Falls and landed in a 100-foot ravine. The rollover left one woman dead, and the driver is now facing a felony charge of automobile homicide.
At approximately 6:20 a.m. Monday, officers and emergency responders were dispatched to the area of Spring Drive, a dirt road between state Route 17 and Toquerville Falls recreation area, on a report of a physical injury rollover.
Mark James Wyler, 21, of St. George, called 911 to report he had rolled his black Chevrolet Blazer and that his girlfriend, 20-year-old Cierra Perez, of Santa Clara, might be dead, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in support of Wyler’s arrest Wednesday as a result of the crash.
Wyler told authorities he remembered traveling towards Toquerville Falls that night, and recalled the rollover happening at around 10:45 p.m. Sunday.
“It appeared that the vehicle left the roadway around a corner of the single lane dirt road,” the arresting deputy wrote in the statement. “The yaw marks in the roadway showed that the vehicle was traveling fast around a sharp curve in the road in what the driver explained was in darkness during the night.”
The narrow dirt road the two were traveling on has no roadway safety devices such as guardrails, and is not regularly maintained, the statement said, requiring slow, careful and cautious driving even in daylight hours.
According to the statement of probable cause, it was determined the Blazer traveled off the roadway, rolling several times down a 100-foot cliff, before coming to rest in a ravine approximately 200 feet off the road.
Perez was ejected from the Blazer and died from injuries she sustained in the crash. She was located several feet from the vehicle near the bottom of the ravine.
While Search and Rescue volunteers assisted in recovering Perez’s body, Wyler was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George with injuries that were nonlife-threatening.
During the investigation, deputies located evidence, including empty Redd’s Apple Ale containers and bottle caps, inside the Blazer and in the Blazer’s debris path as it rolled down the steep embankment, suggesting alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the crash.
“Given the remote location of the accident, it appeared that all the items in the debris path came out of the vehicle as it rolled,” the statement said.
In an interview with authorities at the hospital, Wyler said he drank alcohol around 9 p.m. Sunday, the statement said. Witnesses told authorities Wyler was intoxicated at that time.
The fatal rollover occurred approximately an hour and 45 minutes later.
“Mark explained that he was not ejected from the vehicle,” the arresting deputy wrote in the statement, “but became unconscious and woke up in the morning inside the vehicle around 5:00.”
Wyler then noticed Perez was not in the Blazer with him, according to the statement. When he found her outside the vehicle, he said he was unable to wake her up.
“He stated she felt cold and he believed she was deceased,” the statement said. “Mark said he then drank some of the alcohol before going to find cell service to call 911.”
Wyler consented to blow into a portable breath test which showed a blood alcohol level of .000 by the time the test was able to be administered, according to the statement of probable cause. He also consented to a blood draw at the hospital.
Due to evidence found at the scene, Wyler’s admission of drinking alcohol prior to the crash, and witnesses saying Wyler was intoxicated before driving, deputies arrested Wyler Wednesday.
Wyler was initially booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility on two class A misdemeanor charges of negligent homicide and driving under the influence, two class B misdemeanors for an out-of-state warrant and driving on a suspended driver’s license, and a class C misdemeanor for improper lane travel.
However, the Washington County Attorney’s Office chose Thursday to pursue different charges. Those charges include a third-degree felony for automobile homicide, a class B misdemeanor for driving on a revoked driver’s license, and an infraction for improper lane usage.
Judge Eric A. Ludlow, of the 5th District Court, ordered $5,000 bail for Wyler’s release pending trial.
Wyler was found indigent by the court during his initial court appearance Thursday and will be represented by court-appointed attorney Michael Lastowski. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance on June 15.
It was also found that Wyler had a $5,000 warrant for his arrest issued by the Superior Court of the State of Arizona in and for the County of Mohave for aggravated driving a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a class 4 felony in Arizona; and aggravated driving a vehicle while under the extreme influence of intoxicating liquor with an alcohol concentration of .15 or more but less than .20, also a class 4 felony.
In addition to these charges, according to Utah Court documents, Wyler was convicted in Utah of driving on a suspended driver’s license in May 2013, reckless driving and driving on a suspended license in March 2014, and minor consumption of alcohol in July 2014.
This report includes preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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