Investigation into December’s fatal In-N-Out crash moves forward

According to Washington City Police, a Las Vegas man died after succumbing to injuries sustained resulting from an SUV crashing into the wall of a nearby In-N-Out restaurant. Washington City, Utah, Dec. 14, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The investigation into last year’s fatal crash at the Washington City In-N-Out Burger is moving forward with the recent issuance of a search warrant allowing investigators to obtain additional information into just how the crash may have occurred.

A makeshift memorial for Antonio Mendoza has been placed outside the In-N-Out in Washington City on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. Mendoza lost his life after an SUV crashed into the restaurant the day before. | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Last month, 5th District Judge G. Michael Westfall approved a warrant to obtain the crash data recorder from the 2011 Chevrolet Traverse involved in the Dec. 14, 2019 crash that resulted in the death of Las Vegas resident Antonia Mendoza.

According to court documents, Westfall approved a warrant to obtain the crash recorder housed in the Traverse which was impounded following the December crash.

The crash occurred around 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 14 when the Traverse accelerated through the parking lot shared by the In-N-Out Burger, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy and slammed into the side of the fast-food restaurant.

The impact smashed into a part of the building where Mendoza had been sitting. According to court documents, he “suffered serious injuries and (was) passing in and out of consciousness.” He died the following day.

The crash is being investigated as negligent homicide, according to court documents.

The occupants of the Traverse, among a handful of others, were taken to the hospital for care by ambulance or private parties.

Prior to crashing into the In-N-Out Burger, the Traverse hit a man in the parking lot. The man had been trying to get across the parking lot and moved to avoid the oncoming Traverse SUV, but was struck and thrown to the ground.

According to Washington City Police, the driver of a 2011 Chevrolet Traverse may have stepping on the gas instead of the brake, resulting in the SUV accelerating into the wall of a nearby In-N-Out restaurant. Washington City, Utah, Dec. 14, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Witnesses told police the SUV’s driver, who was identified as a St. George resident, “seemed to be angry or frustrated when he drove by,” according to court documents.

The driver told police during an interview the next day that he had backed out of a parking stall slowly at first; however, the SUV accelerated rapidly once he put the vehicle in drive.

“He doesn’t remember pressing the accelerator,” the investigating police officer wrote of the driver in the search warrant request. “He just recalls not being able to slow down and that he just held on for the ride and attempted to steer the vehicle as it continued to accelerate.”

Additional questions asking if the driver was in a panic and pressed the accelerator revealed he was not certain if he had or not.

“He is hoping that a crash data recorder will give further information,” the investigating officer wrote, adding the driver also agreed to allow the Traverse to undergo a safety inspection by the Utah Highway Patrol.

A search warrant request to obtain the crash data recorder and other potentially pertinent items within the Chevrolet Traverse was submitted to the court and subsequently granted by Westfall on Jan. 15.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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