Police arrest driver in fatal Park City auto-pedestrian accident
A California man died from his injuries after a driver hit him as he was walking on Empire Avenue close to Park City Mountain Resort on Thursday evening, the Park City Police Department said, a tragic case that could spur more discussions about pedestrian safety in a community that stresses alternatives to driving.
Thomas Chauvel was 43 and from Newport Beach, California. The accident occurred a little bit after 7 p.m. on the 1400 block of Empire Avenue. Chauvel was walking on the east side of the road when a northbound van struck him.
An ambulance took him to the University of Utah Hospital. He died at the hospital. The Police Department in a prepared statement said the family of Chauvel expressed appreciation to the people at the scene who assisted until the arrival of emergency responders. A makeshift cross and flowers were briefly placed at the scene but removed by Sunday afternoon.
The police arrested a 23-year-old man on suspicion of failing to remain at an accident scene that involved a death, a third-degree felony. The man had not been formally charged by midday Monday.
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An affidavit of probable cause filed in 3rd District Court against the man indicates the victim was unconscious and bleeding from the mouth at the time the authorities were notified of the accident.
An officer who responded saw parts of a vehicle in the road and found witnesses. One of the witnesses took a photograph of the license plate of the suspect vehicle, the affidavit says, describing the vehicle as being from a ski-rental company. An officer contacted the company and an employee reached the van driver.
The affidavit says the driver returned to the location of the accident and told the police the vehicle was damaged. A police officer asked whether the driver saw the pedestrian and bumped him, the affidavit says, adding that the driver told the police he was traveling at the speed limit and the victim “was out in the middle of the road …” The affidavit says the officer asked the driver why he did not remain at the scene. The driver told the police he was scared and that he could not “stress it enough how immature I acted.”
The police found damage to the van, including a cracked windshield, and detained the driver. The driver was brought to the police station and told investigators the victim “was just walking in the road” and he did not see him, according to the filing. He also told the police he was in disarray after the accident, the affidavit says.
The accident was the third involving a driver and a pedestrian in a two-week period in Park City. The two earlier cases, both in January, occurred along Park Avenue. In one of the cases, a driver hit a pedestrian as the person was crossing Park Avenue close to Holiday Village. The Utah Highway Patrol later said the victim was in better shape than had been expected. In the other case, a driver hit a pedestrian at slow speed at the intersection of Park Avenue and Saddle View Way. The police said the victim suffered minor injuries.
Park City leaders stress pedestrian and bicycling routes as alternatives to driving, building pedestrian-bicyclist tunnels and other infrastructure. The leaders have long seen the efforts as steps to reduce traffic and cut vehicle emissions.
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Nearly 300 year-round workers are affected by the cost-cutting measures, according to a resort spokesperson.