Utah Ballet Student Injured in Drug-Related DUI Crash


Catherine Smith-Warner was waiting for the bus at 7:15 in the morning, on her way to class in her last year of college before graduating with a degree in ballet, when a driver lost control of his truck and hit her.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Provo, Utah, woman sustained injuries to her cheeks and nose in the accident, and she shattered her right leg. The driver, Justin Hicken, was allegedly high when he veered onto the sidewalk and put Smith-Warner’s career as a dancer in serious jeopardy.

The Utah Valley University student, who teaches children dance lessons, underwent surgery on Thursday in Provo. Hospital officials said that Smith-Warner was in serious condition.

Hicken had appeared in court the Tuesday before, facing DUI charges that came from when he was arrested in late July. Police say that he was high on heroin at the time of this latest incident. He consented to a test just after the accident, which allegedly tested positive for the drug.

Smith-Warner had just started to teach classes at several dance schools in Springville, Utah. “She just loves the feeling she gets when she’s moving,” said her husband Jeremy. “She fell in love with dancing as a teenager.”

Now her future with dance is in question. “This girl was launched through the air, landed in the street and underneath a car, with head injuries and leg injuries,” said Lt. Dave Caron of the Springville Police Department. “People who drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they don’t apparently care what time of day or what day of the week, or apparently whether they even stay on the road.”

Hicken had veered from out of his lane and into oncoming traffic before he struck the victim. He is being held in county jail, charged with reckless driving, possession of drug paraphernalia and causing serious injury while driving under the influence of drugs.

“Initially I was really upset and frustrated and angry,” said Smith-Warner’s husband. “But it’s sad to me that he made those kind of decisions in his life and has those kind of consequences. When you do drugs, you not only hurt yourself, but you hurt other people.”

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