NewsLocal News


Community mourns Utah couple killed in Hawaii car crash while on vacation

Posted at 6:57 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 20:09:44-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A prominent Utah couple were vacationing in Hawaii when a tragic car crash took both of their lives on January 30.

Hawaii Police report that at 7:33 on Sunday night, a Toyota 4runner was traveling southbound when it crossed the double line and hit a 2020 Jeep SUV traveling North. After the first collision, a Volvo sedan, also traveling South, hit the 4runner.

The two occupants of the Jeep were unresponsive at the scene and were pronounced dead once they were transported to the hospital, local police reported.

The female driver of the Toyota 4runner also died of her injuries in the crash. the driver of the Volvo sedan had minor injuries, but was taken to the hospital to be treated.

Police have identified two of the victims as 44-year old Rebecca van Uitert and 44-year-old Jason Howell of Heber City.

The couple was married and had four children whom they had adopted within the last five years. The children were not with their parents at the time of the crash, they were staying with family in Utah.

Van Uitert most recently was an immigration lawyer at "Fragomen," in Salt Lake City and Howell served as a family practice doctor in Heber City.

The couple was heavily involved in the Brigham Young University Law School, where Rebecca once served as Dean of Career Development. BYU academic leadership expressed their deep sadness for the tragedy in a social media post.

The tribute said in part, "I know many of you will feel, as I do, an almost incomprehensible sense of loss that people who were such a big part of our lives and who were doing so much good in the world could be taken so young," said D. Gordon Smith, Dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University.

Leaders with Intermountain Heber Valley Hospital and Heber Valley Clinic also sent their condolences to the family and expressed their appreciation for Dr. Howell during his years of work.

“All of us at Intermountain Heber Valley Hospital and Heber Valley Clinic are deeply saddened about the tragic passing of Jason E. Howell, MD and his wife, Rebecca Van Uitert, JD, following a traffic accident. Dr. Howell was a beloved friend, physician and medical staff leader," the statement reads. "His compassionate care and welcoming demeanor endeared him to patients and fellow caregivers. Dr. Howell was fluent in Spanish and a strong advocate for the Hispanic community. He loved the interactions with his patients and truly got to know them as he partnered to co-create holistic, personal plans to improve health. Dr. Howell will leave a lasting legacy. The Heber Valley Clinic staff will continue to care for Dr. Howell’s patients and reach out to those with previously scheduled appointments to discuss options.”

Police are looking into lack of attention and speed as contributing factors in the crash and are waiting on additional tests to help with potential other contributing causes.