One of four teens critically injured in a Cache County DUI crash is paralyzed and had both legs amputated over the weekend, her family says.
Meantime, Dustin Wesley Andersen, 45, faces several charges in the crash, which occurred Thursday at milepost 469 on U.S. Highway 89.
Sarah Frei, who was returning to Syracuse from Bear Lake with friends, was the most seriously injured, according to her family.
“She is in her eighth surgery as we speak,” her older sister, Emily Craythorne, said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“She has at least three more surgeries,” Craythorne said, and may be able to return home to Syracuse in a couple of weeks.
She is at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Sarah, 17, is the youngest of six Frei children and will be a senior at Clearfield High School.
Craythorne said the family wants people to know “who Sarah is.”
“Sarah has always had a positive, happy outlook on life,” Craythorne said. “She is light, strong and confident. We just know that the attributes she already has will carry us through the challenges and trials that await her.”
She said the family has received a huge response of support since the crash.
“It’s more than we ever imagined,” Craythorne said. “Multiple schools and cities coming together, strangers that we don’t even know wanting to donate.”
She said supporters include “monasteries, people all over the nation, nuns in Texas, different religions.”
The family has a GoFundMe account to help with Sarah’s medical expenses, which stood at almost $33,000 in donations as of midday Tuesday.
There’s also a ”Strong Like Sarah” page set up by the family to share information about her.
On Monday, her brother Mitchell Frei said Sarah had been able to communicate for the first time with hand motions to her parents, Greg and Amy Frei.
She made an “I love you” sign after lengthy effort, he said.
“Our sweet Sarah was simply expressing her love to her mom and dad and didn’t quit until they got the message,” Mitchell Frei wrote. “It truly demonstrates who Sarah is as a person that the first communication she worked so hard to complete was this message of love.”
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, the driver of the teens’ car suffered a broken femur, while another passenger suffered a punctured lung and the other abdominal injuries.
A police probable cause statement said Andersen told a trooper that the black Kia carrying the four teenagers was on his side of the highway and he swerved to try to avoid a crash.
But the trooper said his investigation showed the Kia was on the southbound shoulder at the point of impact and that Andersen’s white Dodge pickup had left yaw marks on the pavement well before he could have had line of sight to the Kia.
Another driver told the trooper Andersen’s northbound pickup crossed the double yellow line in the center of the highway before the crash.
The trooper arrested Andersen and took him to the Cache County Jail in Logan.
He was booked on suspicion of four DUI-related charges, including three third-degree felonies, plus speeding and two other infractions.
Andersen was released after posting bail. Formal charges had not been filed in 1st District Court as of Tuesday.
“We choose not to say any opinion about him,” Craythorne said on behalf of the Frei family when asked about Andersen.