Critical collision following ‘senior sunrise’

Updated May 23, 2012 4:15 p.m. St. George Police Department provides details not previously released; set forth at the end of the article captioned Update 2.

Updated May 23, 2012 1:40 p.m. partial report on injuries added at the end of the article.

First published May 23, 2012 11:45 a.m.

ST. GEORGE – Sometime prior to 7 a.m. today a group of Desert Hills High School students traveling in an SUV collided with a pickup truck occupied by one male in his mid 40’s.

Sgt. Craig Harding of the St. George Police Department said that the police were called about 6:48 a.m. to the scene at 1450 South near the Stone Cliff community, which he said is at about 2450 East.

Harding said that the group of kids was traveling westbound when they failed to negotiate a turn in the road and collided head on with the red Ford pickup that was traveling eastbound.

“I don’t have the number of kids, I don’t know why they failed to negotiate the turn, and we are in the middle of the investigation,” Harding said.

An accident reconstruction team has been called in and is at work on scene.

Regarding rumors of a fatality involved in the accident, “I do not know that,” said Harding, “we have somebody at the hospital and I heard Life Flight was mentioned, but I do not know for who and I do not know the condition of the patient. All were transported when I arrived there. We have somebody at the hospital to determine names, ages and that kind of thing.”

The police investigation will look into three possible factors in the normal course of the investigation – not because they are suspected but these are factors to be considered: drugs, alcohol and speed.

“I can tell you we are looking at three things,” Harding said, “drugs or alcohol – we don’t have any indication that those were involved but we want to eliminate that as a question. We do not have any indication that speed was involved, but we need to know if that was a possibility. ”

St. George News has spoken with one* of the teenagers involved in the accident who said, “yeah, all of us kids are okay but the other guy isn’t doing good.”

Another* teenager told St. George News that he was with those involved in the accident earlier this morning at Desert Hills High School’s annual Senior Sunrise, a sunrise breakfast tradition for high school juniors making passage to the senior class on the morning after commencement ceremonies. He said the teenagers were headed home when the accident happened.

Update 1: A fellow student* of those involved in the accident told St. George News that one* of them is being treated for a broken femur and another* for a broken arm, both at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.

Update 2: At 4 p.m. today, Harding told St. George News that the parties to the accident include two 17-year-old boys* driving a black 2002 GMC Yukon and 43-year-old Donald Padilla, driving a 1991 red Ford pickup, which the boys hit.

Harding said that the two boys were returning home from an all-night “senior sunrise,” as reported by St. George News earlier in this story.  While the investigation is ongoing, it does not appear that alcohol or drugs was a factor and it does not appear that speed was a factor in the incident.

Padilla was Life Flighted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas in extremely critical condition, Harding said.

The boys were seen at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George. Harding had no information on one having a broken arm but had heard third-hand information about one having a broken femur.

* St. George News elects to not publish names of juveniles in this incident, consistent with its policy against naming juveniles who are or may be witnesses, victims or accused, or may meet other privacy considerations.


Patrick Blake contributed to this article.

email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright 2012 St. George News. 

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  • Jenny Betenson May 23, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Prayers for the victim and his family. His son is my son’s best friend and he is such a nice man.

  • Stefani Sarem May 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I was in the ER this morning when they were brought in. While we were in the waiting room several family members were present, and I know that they called in their church official to bless one of the boys. My prayers to their families and friends.

  • claudia May 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Just and update… Padilla died today. So sad. I know his wife. Prayers to her .

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