ST. GEORGE – Conflicting reports regarding a hit-and-run in Little Valley Tuesday have left community members wondering whether the police have or have not found the driver and whether the driver really did leave the scene at the time of the accident.
Sgt. Craig Harding with the St. George Police Department took the time today to answer those questions for St. George News and dispel rumors that the police department is protecting the suspect instead of investigating the crime.
According to Harding, Marva Cutler was taking her morning jog when she was hit by a vehicle driving northbound on the east side of the road. Cutler was jogging on the west side of the road. Cutler was hit, but not run over by the vehicle, he said. He said drugs and alcohol were not a factor, but did not say why the driver crossed the center into the opposing lane of traffic.
Harding said when police arrived on scene; ambulance and fire were already there and had called for life flight. Harding said officers saw and spoke with many people who were standing by, but their priority was to stabilize Cutler and secure the evidence that would be blown away when the helicopter landed on the road.
Harding said the driver of the vehicle was at the scene and told officers that he or she was first on scene. The driver did not indicate at that time they had driven the vehicle that hit Cutler.
Harding said many leads were called into the police department and he was grateful for the community involvement. He said he did have one lead that panned out, but the driver also came forward and is cooperating with police at this time.
The alleged driver of the vehicle is a local community member, he said, and officers have recovered the vehicle. He said the investigation team just wrapped up their investigation today and processed the evidence from the vehicle. He said the police have filed their report with both the city and county attorneys.
Harding previously told St. George News “We have no inkling of an indication that the person to be charged will leave the area.”
He said that is still the case, but could not give his reasons due to the fact that the investigation is pending review from attorneys. Harding said if they felt the driver was going to leave town, they would have taken him or her into custody.
He said the person has not been arrested because charges have not yet been filed. When asked why the delay, he said it is very important that they file the right charges. If the charges fall under a Class B Misdemeanor or less, it will be filed by the city attorney. If it is a Class A Misdemeanor or a felony charge, it will be filed by the county attorney. Officers do not want to rush the charges as they can change depending on Cutler’s condition. If the charges are filed too early and the driver pleads guilty to a lesser charge, they can’t file more serious charges later.
Harding added that Cutler is now in “favorable” condition, although she is still hospitalized at University Medical Center in Las Vegas.
Harding said now that the police have filed their report, he expects an answer from prosecutors within a few days and asked that the public be patient.
“They’ve got to trust us to do the job we’ve trained specifically to do and that we will do it the best way possible,” he said.
A fund at Mountain America Credit Union has been established in Marva Cutler’s name.
Email [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.