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Johnson said UHP troopers did not participate in the pursuit, but troopers deployed the spike strips and then performed traffic control in an effort to keep motorists out of harm’s way.
"We kept the public out of that potential [danger]," he said. "There could have been bullets going everywhere."
Johnson said that, in general, UHP’s policy has supervisors monitoring chases. If pursuits begin to pose a danger to the public, they are terminated.
"Once the risk for safety increases to the troopers, and especially to the other motoring public," Johnson said, "we’re going to seriously reconsider that pursuit."
No one was injured during the chase itself, but Maria Herrera, 18, of Layton, died afterward when she encountered the halted traffic stemming from the crash and failed to stop her 2003 Subaru Legacy in time.
After veering into the emergency lane and then over-correcting into the right lane, she collided first with a Hyundai passenger car about 8:20 p.m. and then spun into the back of a semi-tractor rig. Herrera was ejected and suffered fatal injuries, troopers said.
The driver of the Hyundai, a 42-year-old Alpine man, was transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injures. The semi driver was not injured.
Herrera was very kind, even when people were mean to her, said her friend Max Ramos. "She cared a lot about children, and she was really interested in psychology... She’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met and probably ever will meet."
According to a search of Utah court records, Knight has a criminal history of mostly non-violent offenses. In 2004, he was convicted in federal court for possession of a stolen shotgun and was sentenced to three years probation.
In state court, Knight pleaded no contest in 1999 in Provo’s 4th District Court to a reduced third-degree felony count of aggravated kidnapping and was sentenced to probation and nine months in jail.
In 2004, he was charged in four theft cases in 4th District Court. Two cases were dismissed, but he pleaded guilty to class A misdemeanor theft in one case and entered a guilty plea to third-degree felony theft in another. For the felony conviction, he spent a year in the Utah County jail, according to court records.
In 2007, he pleaded guilty to class B misdemeanor assault in Salt Lake City’s justice court and was sentenced to probation.
And in 2011, he was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to violating a protective order, a class A misdemeanor, in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City.
Tribune reporters Michael McFall, Bob Mims, Jessica Miller and Donald W. Meyers contributed to this report.
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