Utah man charged with manslaughter in road rage crash that killed 2 bystanders

The two people weren’t involved in the events that led to the crash.

(Utah County Sheriff's Office) A head-on crash reportedly prompted by a road-rage encounter killed two people on Sunday, June 4, 2023. The driver and passenger of a car that was not involved in the dispute died.

A 30-year-old Eagle Mountain man was charged Monday with manslaughter after authorities say he plowed into another vehicle head-on June 4, killing two people in a crash that was fueled by road rage.

The two people killed, a 48-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman, were not involved in the road rage conflict that led up to the wreck, authorities have said.

Peterson Drew Matheson faces two felony counts of manslaughter and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving in connection with the deaths of Rodney Michal Salm, of Salt Lake City; and his passenger, Michaela Himmleberger, of Holladay.

Matheson also received two infractions in connection with the crash — one for following another car too closely, and another for failing to stay in one lane.

Court records show Matheson has a history of speeding. Last year, he received an infraction for going 107 mph in an 80 mph zone that was amended to 102 mph. He pleaded guilty and was required to pay a $420 fine.

Car was ‘completely destroyed’

On the afternoon of June 4, deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the scene of the fatal Eagle Mountain crash, which happened on State Route 73 near milepost 30, according to a probable cause statement.

Officers found three vehicles: a white Ford F-150 pickup truck, a Porsche 911 Carrera, and a white Nissan Maxima. Matheson was driving the F-150, according to the statement.

The driver of the Nissan told police that about 5 miles away, in the city center area of Eagle Mountain, Matheson had pulled out in front of him on northbound Eagle Mountain Boulevard, setting off a “road rage incident,” according to the sheriff’s office. The two drivers continued north before turning east on SR 73.

The driver of the Nissan, who passed Matheson at some point, told deputies that Matheson then tailgated him before moving into the eastbound emergency lane, pulling up alongside his car and ramming into it from the side, authorities said.

Matheson then slowed down, the driver of the Nissan told deputies. That’s when he apparently lost control of his truck, crossed the center line and crashed head-on into the Porsche that Salm was driving.

The front end of the Porsche was “completely destroyed” all the way back to its passenger compartment, the probable cause statement notes.

“Salm and Himmelberger were completely uninvolved in the road rage incident except at the point where the driver of the F-150 lost control and crashed head-on into the Porsche,” a news release from the sheriff’s office states.

Victims were ‘inseparable’

A personal obituary for Salm states that he loved cars; he grew up collecting model cars and began collecting vintage vehicles, including the Porsche he was driving June 4, into adulthood.

The obituary notes that he and Himmelberger were dating and had become “inseparable.” They were riding in a group of about 20 other Porsches on the day authorities say Matheson crashed into them.

“A road rage incident on the other side of the road took both of them away from us in the blink of an eye,” the obituary states.

Matheson’s next court hearing in the manslaughter case is scheduled for Thursday.

Prior to his 2022 speeding infraction, Matheson was also cited for speeding in 2018. Four years before that, in 2014, he was charged with a class C misdemeanor for speeding that he paid a $140 fine for. He was charged with another misdemeanor in 2013 for which he paid a $90 fine, court records show.

In 2011, he was charged with a two misdemeanors for speeding that he entered bail forfeitures for; he paid a $240 fine for one charge and $170 for the other, court records indicate.