Woman tells police she began defecating in car just before hitting, killing 2 cyclists in Washington City

The scene of a fatal crash involving a two bicyclists being hit by an SUV, Washington City, Utah, April 9, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Washington City Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A woman arrested for alleged automobile homicide told police she swerved and fatally hit two bicyclists when a medical condition caused her to begin defecating uncontrollably.

The incident occurred Saturday afternoon on Coral Canyon Boulevard and Telegraph Street in Washington City. The two men killed in the crash were brothers participating in the annual “Spring Tour of St. George” bicycle ride.

Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams told St. George News the men were participating in the ride along with each of their sons, both of whom were trailing behind when their fathers were struck by a red 2004 Toyota Highlander driven by 47-year-old Julie Ann Budge. He said the younger riders rode onto the scene before their fathers were sent to the hospital, each witnessing the aftermath of what took place.

When officers arrived, the suspect’s vehicle was reportedly no longer at the scene. When they found the Highlander several hundred yards west of where the cyclists were struck, they asked Budge if she was okay. She told police she had several health issues and needed medical attention. She also told officers she was on a number of medications, according to charging documents filed with the courts.

Budge reportedly told police she suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and has been defecating on herself without warning.

Shortly before the crash, she explained to police that she left her home in Hurricane and was traveling west on Telegraph Street when she began to defecate uncontrollably, causing her to swerve toward the side of the road. She told police she didn’t see the two cyclists stopped on the shoulder and struck both riders when she swerved.

From there, she reportedly said she was unable to stop the vehicle and it continued west several hundred yards until the engine died. Police spoke to a witness who said it appeared the driver had no intention of stopping after striking the two riders.

The scene of a fatal crash involving a two bicyclists being hit by an SUV, Washington City, Utah, April 9, 2022 | Photo courtesy of Washington City Police Department, St. George News

Budge reportedly failed a field sobriety test at the scene. Williams said the woman later admitted to being on a fentanyl drip at the hospital the previous day.

A blood test was performed on Budge at St. George Regional Hospital, after which she was arrested and booked into jail at Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday.

On Monday, Budge was formally charged with two second-degree felony counts of automobile homicide criminal negligence DUI, as well as four third-degree felonies, including two counts each of failing to remain at accident involving death and DUI with serious bodily injury by negligent operation. She also faces misdemeanor reckless driving.

In a prior arrest in September 2015, Budge was stopped on Washington Parkway near the Interstate 15 overpass in Washington City and was later charged with driving under the influence. According to court records, in December of that year, Budge pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless driving when a blood test came back clean.

Bike Utah released a statement Monday regarding the crash that said both riders were struck “despite the fact that they were legally traveling in a dedicated bike lane as participants in the annual Spring Tour of St. George.”

“We are gutted by the tragic and preventable death of the two cyclists whose lives were taken this weekend by someone who admittedly drove under the influence. Our hearts go out to their loved ones and to everyone who witnessed the crash, as well as to those who attempted to provide life-saving help,” Bike Utah Executive Director Jenn Oxborrow said in the statement. “Bike lanes exist to promote safe, active transportation, allowing vehicles and bicycles to travel simultaneously in different lanes on the same roadway.”

Bike Utah’s statement includes crash data from the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration showing that in 2019, more than 840 pedal-cyclists were killed in crashes with a vehicle, with more than one-third of the crashes involving alcohol. Another 50,000 cyclists are injured in vehicle-related crashes each year.

“As we witnessed on Friday, and on numerous other occasions, when drivers are impaired no one is safe,” Oxborrow said.

According to Zero Fatalities, 29% of roadway fatalities involve individuals who are not in a vehicle, which is the combined equivalent of nearly 100 bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians killed each year on Utah roads.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other 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.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!