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| Courtesy Tooele County Sheriff Paul Mumford
Wrong-way Utah driver in court on three counts of murder
Courts » Paul Mumford was allegedly driving drunk in I-80 head-on.
First Published Jul 14 2014 12:05 pm • Last Updated Jul 15 2014 09:38 am

Tooele • Paul Mumford was confused when he woke up at the hospital, prosecutors said.

He couldn’t remember the crash that landed him there, the high-speed collision that killed a mother and her two daughters.

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"Did I hurt someone?" he asked police. "Did someone die?"

Mumford was charged last week with three counts of murder for the deaths of Delphine John, 44, and daughters Anaya Orozco, 3, and Deliah Ramirez, 18.

He appeared Monday in a Tooele County courtroom, where he stood solemnly as 3rd District Judge Robert Adkins read the charges against him.

Mumford has been charged with three counts of murder — a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison — but Tooele County Attorney Doug Hogan provided alternatives: three counts of manslaughter or automobile homicide, second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison apiece.

"I think now he appreciates the harm that’s been caused," Hogan said after the hearing. "A lot of people describe this sort of crash as a tragic accident, but I take issue with the second word. When a person voluntarily consumes a mind-altering substance and then gets behind the wheel of a car, it’s no longer an accident."

According to charging documents, Mumford, 36, was driving a pickup east on Interstate 80 on Saturday, July 5, after a trip to Wendover.

Witnesses said he was driving recklessly — veering in and out of lanes, tailgating cars — after he made a U-turn in an emergency turnaround on the freeway. The pickup then pulled over onto the shoulder for a moment before turning around and traveling east on the westbound side of the highway.

Hogan said Mumford was driving about 80 mph when he crashed head-on into a Chevy Suburban carrying a Farmington family. The Suburban was also traveling about 80 mph.

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No skid marks were visible at the scene, prompting investigators to believe the crash occurred at full speed.

"That’s like a 160-miles-per-hour crash," Hogan said. "The family that he struck really had no chance. They didn’t have a chance to react because, when you’re driving, there should be nothing coming at you that fast."

The mother and her two daughters were killed. John’s husband, Jose Adame-Orozco, was taken to the hospital with critical injuries.

Hogan said the man is recovering, but remained hospitalized as of Friday.

The impact of the crash was "so violent that the engine of [the Suburban] was found approximately 10 feet away from the vehicle," according to court documents.

Mumford was taken to a hospital, where troopers interviewed him and reported that he smelled of alcohol. He told investigators he had "a couple of beers and had been at the casino for a couple of hours," officials wrote in charging documents. He told Utah Highway Patrol troopers that he fell asleep behind the wheel.

Early blood work taken at the hospital after the deadly crash indicated that Mumford’s blood-alcohol content was 0.24 — three times the legal limit of 0.08, at which it is presumed safe to drive.

Mumford faces an additional charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, a third-degree felony, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

"The second you take [alcohol] into your body, and then get behind the wheel of a car, you turn over the control," Hogan said. "He was so intoxicated that he went the wrong way on an interstate at 80 miles per hour."

Mumford remains in custody in lieu of a $400,000 cash-only bond, which the judge Monday indicated would remain.

He will again appear in court July 29, at which point, he told the judge, he expects to be represented by a private attorney. If he cannot retain private counsel, the judge said, a public defender will be appointed.

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