ST. GEORGE — A family grieves after brother and sister died within 48 hours of one another in two fatal crashes at one Bluff Street intersection last week.
File photo of emergency crews working the scene of a fatal pedestrian-vehicle incident Friday night at the intersection of 500 North and Bluff Street, Nov. 3, 2023 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
On Friday, first responders were dispatched to the scene of the auto-pedestrian collision at 8:47 p.m. at the intersection of Bluff Street and 500 North, where they found a male pedestrian unresponsive. Officers and medical staff attempted life-saving measures, but the man ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
He was later identified as Matthew Jones of St. George by his sister Valerie Jones, who told St. George News that her brother lived near the intersection where he was killed.
Her sister, Mardelle Parkin, 37, was killed in essentially the same location on Nov. 1 when officers and emergency responders were called out on a report of a crash involving a female pedestrian who was struck and killed by a pickup truck, she said.
She and her brother were together at the scene on Wednesday evening, hugging, when she told him, “Nothing better ever happen to you.”
Little did she know, she said, that statement would come back to haunt her when she returned to the same intersection two nights later.
She spoke to her brother before Friday’s incident and told him she would call him back after she got some rest, as she was exhausted and heartbroken over her sister’s death. She had every reason to believe she would catch up with her brother later that night.
Shortly thereafter, she received a call from a friend who was trying to tell her what happened, but in shock, she said she was unable to comprehend what he was trying to tell her until he yelled into the phone, “Matthew is dead.”
When she arrived at the scene, she said it was “very surreal” to be in the same intersection she had stood with her brother only two nights before when their sister was killed.
As the eldest child, she helped to raise both of her siblings, so it felt as though she had lost her own children in a way, she said. This made the loss even more devastating in some respects.
File photo of emergency personnel responding to a fatal crash involving a pedestrian that is struck and killed near the intersection of Bluff Street and West 500 North in St. George, Utah, Nov. 1, 2023 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
When asked how she was doing, Valerie Jones said, “I’m just trying to go from moment to moment.”
The driver involved in Wednesday’s fatal pedestrian crash, where Parkin died, reportedly cooperated with law enforcement and has not been charged or cited in connection with the incident.
The driver involved in Friday’s collision, identified as 28-year-old Brianna Leigh Waters, of Washington City, was arrested later that night and booked into jail. She is facing multiple charges still under review by the Washington County Attorney’s Office.
Those charges include a second-degree felony count of negligently operation a vehicle resulting in death, as well as a third-degree felony count of DUI. She also faces misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia offenses.
The driver was arrested following an accident reconstruction investigation conducted shortly after the collision. Witnesses told officers that the vehicle reportedly driven by Waters was traveling north on Bluff Street and continued through the intersection of 500 North, colliding with the pedestrian.
L-R: Valerie Jones with sister Mardelle Parkin who was struck and killed near the intersection of Bluff Street and West 500 North in St. George, Utah, date, location of photo not specified
Photo provided courtesy of Valerie Jones, St. George News
Witnesses also reported that the light was “clearly red,” with two cars stopped in the adjacent lane as the suspect’s vehicle approached the intersection. Bystanders said the driver did not appear to hit her brakes before colliding with the pedestrian, statements later confirmed by the crash reconstruction that showed no signs of braking or skid marks before impact.
Officers reported that the driver appeared fidgety and “very nervous,” with visible body and eyelid tremors. She also appeared to have bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils, which could be indicators of drug use.
When asked, the driver said she had “one drink” of alcohol before the crash and denied any recent drug use, reportedly telling investigators the last time she used any illegal narcotics was over a year ago.
The presence of alcohol was not detected during the breathalyzer test, leading investigators to suspect the driver’s impairment was likely caused by drug use. When officers inquired further, the report alleges that Waters “changed her story” and admitted to using cocaine about a week ago.
While being transported to the St. George Police Department, Waters reportedly told police she had used cocaine on her birthday, which was two days before the crash, and a presumptive urinalysis conducted at the police station came back positive for cocaine.
Further testing at the police station led investigators to determine that Waters was under the influence of a central nervous system stimulant at the time of the evaluation. When interviewed further, the driver reportedly admitted to using cocaine before she left her residence, which she said was approximately 30 minutes before the crash.
When asked, the suspect told investigators she thought driving “might be a bad idea” but said she thought it would be okay since she was only driving a short distance.
Following the driver’s arrest, investigators requested she remain in custody without bail. The request was approved, and the case is still under review by the Washington County Attorney’s Office.
A GoFundMe has been set up to support Parkin and Jones families.
Ed. note: When making charitable contributions, it is advisable to consult with professionals for tax advice and investment risks.
St. George News reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.
This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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