Memorial created for I-80 crash victims

Posted at 9:32 PM, May 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-19 23:32:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Taylorsville family is seeking closure after 18-year-old Michaela Martin and two juveniles were killed in a weekend crash following a police chase.

Police say Martin's boyfriend, 24-year-old Jonathan Cruz, was driving erratically in a parking a structure at the Salt Lake City International Airport and refused to pull over, leading airport officers on a chase on Interstate 80.

Police say they ended the chase but moments later, Cruz rolled the car when he suddenly tried to get on the I-215 freeway on-ramp.

Now, there's a growing memorial with crosses and flowers at the site.

"It's really hard. I'm gonna miss her (Michaela)," cried family friend, Shauna Thompson.

"I'm still numb," said the girl's mother, Ida Garcia. "I'm still waiting to see her."

There's been an outpouring of love and support on the teen's Facebook page and when Garcia saw the memorial she said, "This helps a lot. It helps me be able to face what I'm going through in the next several days."

Ida Garcia last saw her daughter at the movies Friday night. The next day, Michaela was with her boyfriend, Jonathan Cruz, at the airport.

When asked why the teen would be there Saturday at 5 a.m., her brother Scott replied, "Not sure. That's the question we're still trying to figure out to this day."

The Utah Highway Patrol says after Cruz refused to pull over for a traffic violation, he led airport police on a 100 mile-per-hour chase.

"There is a couple things on scene that we are investigating so there is a possibility of drugs or alcohol," said Sgt. Larry Mower on Saturday.

UHP also says Cruz was driving with a suspended license and had a warrant out for his arrest. He is the only survivor and is now in a coma. Michaela Martin's mother holds Cruz responsible.

"There's three innocent lives. They had no control what the driver was doing. I'm sure they were yelling at him, telling him to slow down."

"I hope for the best of it that he comes out and gives us some closure and let's us know why he was running, " said Martin's cousin, Alfonso Mendoza.

Police are still investigating and may recommend negligent homicide or vehicular homicide charges but they still have to interview Cruz and are waiting for his condition to improve.