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UHP identifies victims of triple fatal near Salt Lake City airport

Published May 20, 2014 9:36 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The night before she died, Michaela Martin went for a girls' night out with her mother.

Ida Garcia took her 18-year-old shopping and to a movie on Friday night before going back to the family's Taylorsville home.

"We sat and talked for a bit and then she left," Garcia said. "She said she loved me, and she'd see me tomorrow.

"That's the last time I saw her."

Martin was one of three teenage passengers who died in a Volkswagen Passat that plunged into a pond early Saturday during a high-speed chase near Salt Lake City International Airport. Hardinger Cruz, 17, of Salt Lake City, and 14-year-old Randy Ruiz, of Midvale, also died in the crash, according to Utah Highway Patrol.

The driver, Jonathan Ulises Anal Cruz, 24, remained hospitalized Tuesday in serious condition, troopers said. He was dating Martin and is the brother of Hardinger, Garcia said.

Troopers said Jonathan Cruz sped out of an airport parking garage about 5 a.m. Saturday and would not pull over for an airport police officer, instead continuing onto eastbound I-80. The officer had just ended the chase under orders from a supervisor when he noticed a plume of dust ahead of him. He found the Volkswagen, upside down in the pond near the I-80 interchange to I-215 southbound. The three victims died inside the car.

Martin was finishing her high school diploma through independent study and wanted to become a certified nursing assistant, Garcia said.

"She had a very free spirit," Garcia said. "Every person she touched, it always turned out to be a positive thing. She loved life, young children, animals. She loved to dance, loved music. She was a beautiful girl."

Jonathan Cruz, who suffered head injuries and broken bones, had been driving with a suspended Utah driver license and had an active warrant out for his arrest, troopers said.

A Murray justice court judge on May 8 issued a $505, cash-only, arrest warrant for Cruz. According to court records, Cruz failed to pay a $415 fee and did not complete a defensive driving class as part of a 2013 plea in abeyance agreement.

On May 7, 2013, Cruz pleaded no contest to three class C misdemeanors: driving on suspension, no driver's license in possession and failure to obey a stop or yield sign.

According to the plea agreement, the case would have been dismissed earlier this month if Cruz had paid the fee and completed the defensive driving class.

Airport police are conducting the investigation into the fatal crash and will, along with UHP, screen possible charges against Jonathan Cruz with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims