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‘Bridgerton’ author mourns loss of father, sister in Kaysville car crash

By Mark Shenefelt standard-Examiner - | Jul 9, 2021
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Julia Quinn

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This undated photo shows Violet Charles and Stephen Cotler, the sister and father of author Julia Quinn, who were killed in a car crash June 29, 2021, on I-15 in Kaysville.

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Author Julia Quinn, from Seattle, smiles at Diane Skalski, from Clearwater, Fla., during the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing on Tuesday June 28, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

KAYSVILLE — Bestselling “Bridgerton” novelist Julia Quinn is mourning the loss of her father and sister in a Utah car crash and faulting two drivers who are suspected of being responsible.

Quinn, whose novels have inspired a Netflix series of the same name, took to Facebook this week to post about the deaths of her father, Stephen Cotler, 77, of Healdsburg, California, and her sister, Ariana Cotler, 37, of North Salt Lake.

They were killed the night of June 29 on southbound Interstate 15 in Kaysville when, according to the Utah Highway Patrol, a catering truck lost a load of canvas bags in front of them and an alleged drunken driver’s pickup truck crashed into their Toyota.

Quinn paid tribute to her father, a children’s book author, and her sister, a cartoonist, but first commented on their cause of death: “I have lost my father and my sister. Because a catering company did not secure their load and canvas bags spilled onto the highway. Because a pickup driver thought nothing of driving while his blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.”

Myron M. Barlow, 38, of Bluffdale, is charged with two counts of third-degree felony automobile homicide and four other charges related to the alleged DUI.

Sgt. Chris Bishop, a UHP spokesperson, said Friday that state investigators are screening potential charges with the Davis County Attorney’s Office against the catering truck driver.

Quinn’s post said her sister’s service dog also was killed in the crash.

Quinn said she had just finished writing a graphic novel with her sister, who was known professionally as Violet Charles.

“It will still be dedicated to our father,” she said. “It won’t be a surprise anymore, but I’d like to think he suspected we’d do it. He knew us so well. He was our dad.”

Stephen Cotler wrote the “Cheesie Mack” series of novels for middle grade readers, Quinn said.

She said her father took delight in being “the most embarrassing dad ever.” But she added she stopped being embarrassed when, as she accompanied him to his 25th anniversary college reunion, he began dancing badly and enthusiastically to a Janet Jackson tune. As a few teenagers pointed and snickered, she said she thought, “Yeah, you WISH your dad danced like that.”

Charging documents reveal Barlow allegedly told troopers he drank through the late evening hours June 28 until the early morning hours of the following day. He then drove from Oregon to Utah, stopping in Mountain Home, Idaho, and Tremonton. Troopers said Barlow admitted to drinking at both of those stops before continuing toward Kaysville.

After he was taken into custody on the evening of the crash, he was given a breath alcohol test, which registered at 0.146%. The Utah limit is 0.05%.

Barlow’s next court appearance is scheduled July 19 before 2nd District Judge Ronald Russell in Farmington. Efforts to contact Barlow’s public defender, Logan Bushell, were not immediately successful.


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