ST. GEORGE — The driver who reportedly injured two Ironman competitors on Telegraph Street in Washington City when she pulled out in front of the cyclists was arrested and now faces two felony charges.
The incident occurred just before 11 a.m. Saturday – six months after two riders were killed less than two-tenths of a mile away during a bicycle event – when officers were dispatched to a crash reported on Telegraph Street near the corner of Slow Creek Lane.
According to charging documents filed with the courts, officers and emergency personnel arrived to find two injured cyclists participating in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Washington City. One of the riders was bleeding heavily from a compound fracture to his right arm and officers applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, while the second rider was gasping for air.
The ambulance crews arrived and both were transported to St. George Regional Hospital due to the severity of their injuries.
Telegram Street was partially blocked by a black Argon 18 Bicycle and another black bicycle lying near the middle of the roadway, along with shoes and other items that were scattered across the roadway. A Jeep Renegade was in the middle of the roadway with a smashed rear window and heavy damage to the back of the SUV.
Meanwhile, Telegraph Street was shut down and the Metro Critical Crash Team responded and conducted an accident reconstruction to determine the cause of the crash, while a drug recognition expert was also called out to assist in the crash investigation, according to a statement released by Washington City Public Affairs Officer, Jordan Hess.
With the two riders on their way to the hospital, officers spoke to the Jeep driver, 68-year-old Weber County resident Diana Marie Linford, of Farr West City, who told authorities she had smoked marijuana earlier that morning. According to the report, the driver also told officers there were “illegal narcotics” in the vehicle. She was then transported to the Washington City police headquarters to be interviewed by police.
At the time of the crash, Linford reportedly was heading west on Telegraph Street and approaching the intersection of Slow Creek Lane when she initiated a right-hand turn to head north. This placed the Jeep in the middle of the race route where the driver stopped and the Jeep was struck by two of the cyclists, according to the Washington City Police Department.
Through the course of the investigation, the driver was evaluated by two separate drug recognition experts that determined that Linford was “impaired due to illegal substance abuse,” the statement said, and the accident resulted from Linford failing “to obey a flagger involved in the Ironman event,” the officer noted.
Linford was arrested and transported to the hospital to be medically cleared and then transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility shortly before 4 p.m.. She was booked into jail facing two third-degree felony counts of negligently operating a vehicle resulting in serious bodily injury, as well as one count of failing to obey a flagger, a misdemeanor.
Bail was set at $10,000 and Linford was released after posting a bond.
Telegraph Street was closed for more than three hours on Saturday as investigators collected evidence and processed the scene. The road was reopened shortly before 2:30 p.m.
The city also said the incident remains under review by local authorities as well as the medical staff treating both riders who remain in the hospital at this time.
“Our prayers, concerns and thoughts are with the athletes and their families during this difficult time,” Hess said in the statement, and also encouraged residents to be mindful of the change in traffic patterns that can occur when large-scale events are taking place – such as was the case on Saturday.
The incident remains under investigation and no further details are being released at this time.
This is the second incident involving two cyclists being struck by a vehicle within the last six months. In April, a deadly crash was reported during the Spring Tour of St. George Ride involving two cyclists that were killed at the intersection of Telegraph Street and Coral Canyon Boulevard in Washington City – less than two-tenths of a mile to the west of where the incident on Saturday was reported.
The driver in that crash told police she had several health issues and needed medical attention, and also said she was on a number of medications, according to charging documents filed with the courts.
This report is based on statements from observations at the scene and statements from law enforcement officials and may not contain the full scope of findings.
St. George News reporter NICK YAMASHITA contributed to this story.
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