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Court continues hearing in auto homicide case

By Sun Advocate

On Oct. 30, a former Utah Highway Patrol trooper charged with automobile homicide appeared at a preliminary hearing in the third degree felony criminal complaint.
The felony level automobile homicide count stems from a fatal UHP patrol vehicle-bicycle collision July 19, 1998 on Carbon Avenue in Price.
The traffic accident claimed the life of a young bicycle rider, identified as Michael Kouris during the Oct. 30 criminal proceeding in the 7th District Court.
Judge Lyle R. Anderson presided on the district court bench at last Wednesday’s preliminary hearing.
Legal counsel Bradley Rich represented defendant Courtland Eliot Child Sr. at the criminal proceeding, while deputy Utah County attorneys Sherry Ragan and John East acted on behalf of the state prosecutor’s office.
The formal criminal information charges Child with operating the UHP patrol car while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, operating a vehicle in a negligent manner and causing the death of the young bicycle rider.
The prosecution team called several witnesses to testify at the hearing.
The witnesses taking the stand included Price Police Officer Tracy Allred, Utah Department of Health toxicologist Bruce Beck and motorist Tammy Auberger.
Allred conducted the independent law enforcement investigation into the fatal traffic accident.
Beck completed a toxicology test on the blood drawn from Child after the incident occurred and Auberger was traveling along Carbon Avenue when Child’s patrol car struck Kouris.
According to the court record, Allred testified that Child exhibited no apparent signs of impairment at the scene of the fatal auto-bicycle accident.
The Price city police officer pointed out that the investigation into the incident indicated that the UHP vehicle collided with the bicycle outside of the marked pedestrian lane near 480 South on Carbon Avenue.
Auberger testified that she slowed the vehicle she was driving northbound on Carbon Avenue when she noticed the young bicyclist riding on the side of the road.
The motorist said the victim’s bicycle had crossed the travel lane to enter the marked pedestrian walkway when the accident occurred.
Auberger pointed out that she did not spot the flashing red lights until the patrol car had pulled around to pass her vehicle.
Beck testified that the toxicology evaluation he conducted at a state lab confirmed that the drugs discovered in Child’s blood draw were consistent with medical prescription levels.
Allred responded to additional questioning and read portions of a deposition included in a civil lawsuit filed by the Kouris family in connection with the July 1998 fatal automobile-bicycle accident.
The deposition statement, attributed at the Oct. 30 court proceeding as an alleged eyewitness account of the incident by John Wunnenberg, appeared to concur with Auberger’s preliminary hearing testimony regarding the fatal traffic incident.
The civil lawsuit filed on behalf of the plaintiffs currently remains pending, awaiting a ruling in the state’s appellate court system.
Following testimonies from the witnesses present at last Wednesday’s court proceeding, Judge Anderson granted a motion for a continuance in the third degree felony automobile homicide case.
At the conclusion of last Wednesday’s proceeding, the district judge directed legal counsel to contact potential witnesses and schedule a future court date to complete the preliminary hearing in the felony level criminal complaint filed against Child.

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