The representatives of a 29-year-old woman who police said was run over and killed by her drunken husband in a Salt Lake City International Airport parking garage in 2022 are suing the airline they say is responsible for overserving him alcohol, according to court documents.
The two representatives are suing Delta Air Lines for the wrongful death of Charlotte Sturgeon, who died of blunt force trauma, according to a medical examiner. They are also suing on behalf of Sturgeon’s minor child who witnessed the death, alleging that Delta negligently inflicted emotional distress upon the child.
They are suing for medical expenses, lost earnings, funeral costs, general damages and other costs.
Through a spokesperson, Delta Air Lines said, “Although we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on the pending litigation.”
On April 4, 2022, Charlotte Sturgeon and her husband, Shawn Sturgeon, who was 38 at the time, were flying from San Antonio, Texas, to Salt Lake City.
Prior to boarding the plane, Sturgeon had consumed “multiple” alcoholic beverages and had at least two more drinks on the plane itself, the complaint alleges. The drinks served to Shawn Sturgeon by Delta crew members “had intoxicated Shawn to a level well in excess of the legal blood alcohol limit, rendering him impaired,” the complaint alleges.
The document further alleges that Sturgeon was so intoxicated that he didn’t remember landing or walking through the airport in Salt Lake City.
The couple then went to their car in the airport’s short-term parking garage.
There, Sturgeon “argued with his wife so loudly and viciously that it made several people in the area uncomfortable,” a charging document stated.
At their car, security footage shows Shawn Sturgeon placing the child into the right-rear passenger seat of the vehicle, then getting into the driver’s seat, the charging document stated.
His wife, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, then exits the car, walks to the child’s door, and opens it, the document stated. That’s when Shawn Sturgeon can be seen putting the vehicle into reverse, accelerating “abruptly” and stopping, causing Charlotte Sturgeon to lose her balance.
Seconds later, with the child’s door still open, Shawn Sturgeon hit the accelerator again, the footage showed, continuing to drive in reverse. Charlotte Sturgeon was dragged by the car and fell under it, the document stated.
Shawn Sturgeon then put the vehicle in drive and accelerated over his wife, leaving a tire imprint on her body. In total, police said Shawn Sturgeon drove for about 10 feet before stopping the car.
After Sturgeon struck his wife, one witness said Sturgeon came to a “screeching stop,” then got out of the car as he yelled at his wife, saying, “Are you f---ing crazy?” before saying, “Get the f--- up right now. Get off the ground and get in the car.”
Another witness told police that Sturgeon asked his wife “why she just did that,” adding, “now I have to take you to the emergency room,” before “aggressively” picking his crying wife up off the ground and pushing her toward the front passenger seat.
Sturgeon then drove to the garage’s tollbooth exit, where he asked for help. When officers arrived, they found the wife in the front seat, unresponsive but breathing.
She was taken to a hospital, where she died a short time later.
The charging document stated that Sturgeon’s blood alcohol level was 0.13% upon arrest, almost three times Utah’s legal limit.
What happened after Shawn Sturgeon was arrested?
Shawn Sturgeon was charged in 3rd District Court with one count of manslaughter, one count of automobile homicide, and one count of domestic violence in the presence of a child in connection with his wife’s death.
In July 2022, the charge of manslaughter was dismissed with prejudice, but Sturgeon was found guilty of automobile homicide as well as domestic violence in the presence of a child.
Two months later, he was sentenced to 1 to 15 years in the Utah State Prison for the automobile homicide, and up to 5 years for the domestic violence. The prison sentences are to be served consecutively, according to court documents.
Charlotte Sturgeon’s sister read a letter aloud during Shawn Sturgeon’s sentencing hearing.
“She was a strong woman and I’ll forever admire that about her. She never backed down, especially from Shawn,” her sister read.
Editor’s note • Those who are experiencing intimate partner violence, or know someone who is, are urged to call the Utah Domestic Violence Link Line, 1-800-897-LINK (5465), or the Utah Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line, 1-888-421-1100.