The crash occurred about 2:30 p.m. near mile post 81 13 miles north of Monticello when a northbound 2010 Chrysler van attempted to pass another vehicle and struck a 2007 Chrysler Crossfire sports car. The car caught fire and the force of the momentum from the collision carried it off of a 100-foot embankment, where it was completely consumed by fire, UHP investigators said in a news release.
Cody Farabee, 22, the driver of the sports car, and his fiancée, Rheana Hazel, 23, both of Queen Creek, Arizona, died inside the vehicle, UHP officials said. Hazel was seven months’ pregnant with the couple’s first child, a girl they planned to name Zoe, according to family members.
Cody Farabee was the grandson of Richard Farabee, Sr., who owns Farabee’s Jeep Rentals with his son, Ryan Farabee.
Three of the van’s occupants — Samantha Blueeyes, 23, the driver, Alfreda A. Bowman, 28, and Esmerelda Velasquez, 11, all of Salt Lake City — were pronounced dead at the scene. Two other passengers — Michael A. Blueeyes, 22, and Travis L. Howland, 24, also from Salt Lake City, were critically injured and were transported by medical helicopter to area hospitals. Michael Blueeyes died several hours later from injuries sustained in the crash, UHP Lt. Scott Robertson said.
“They were all members of the same family,” Robertson said, adding that Michael and Samantha Blueeyes were siblings. Bowman was their aunt.
Robertson said the accident is still being investigated, but so far, investigators believe the van’s driver made a poor decision in attempting to pass the other vehicle. The van passed on a stretch of road that is marked as a legal passing area, but the roadway at Peters Hill, where the accident occurred, is curvy and winding, Robertson said.
“The whole story here is that people just need to slow down and not drive as aggressively,” Robertson said. “Making a pass is going to save you two or three minutes, maybe, in your trip. It’s not worth having something like this happen.”
Farabee and Hazel had spent the weekend in Moab visiting his family and attending a family reunion.
His cousin, Lexus Farabee Pogue, said the family had spent the day together on Saturday, July 5 during the Farabee family reunion, which included a half-day river trip followed by a meal at the Blu Pig restaurant. Farabee and Hazel had just started on their way back home to Arizona on Sunday afternoon when the accident occurred.
“It’s really hard to think that he was taken away so fast and so young. They were such a cute and happy couple.” Pogue said. “It is definitely hard and heartbreaking, since he was so close to everyone in our family.”
His parents, family and friends said he was a funny, caring and kind man who always thought of others.
“He was lively, energetic and happy,” Michele Farabee, Cody’s mother, told The Times-Independent. “He loved people and he would give anything to anyone who needed help. He was not judgmental. He accepted everyone.”
In high school, Cody Farabee was an accomplished gymnast and diver. He represented the United States at the 2009 World Age Group Trampoline and Tumbling Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia, taking fourth place in double mini-trampoline and seventh in tumbling. He also was a state champion diver and coached high school diving after graduation. His coaching helped his younger brother become a two-time state champion, Michele Farabee said.
Cody had received his degree as a massage therapist and was planning to study to become a physical therapist, his mother said. When Cody was studying massage at Pima Medical Institute in Arizona, he rushed to the aid of classmates in a nearby classroom who had been injured when a car crashed into the building.
“He held his classmate’s hand while she was dying,” Michele Farabee said. “Then he helped another classmate until paramedics arrived.”
Richard Farabee, Jr., said his son was a generous man who “always had everybody else in his mind throughout the day.”
Michele Farabee said Cody and Rheana Hazel were looking forward to their lives together.
“She was Cody’s complement. They laugned together. They got along so well. They just laughed and enjoyed each other,” she said.
She described Hazel as “a sweetheart” for whom family was very important. Hazel, who was originally from Las Vegas, was a teacher at a Queen Creek preschool and child care center.
“She was tenderhearted and kind,” Michele Farabee said. “She would have been a great mom.”
The Farabees said the family is struggling to accept the tragedy.
“We’re in the state where it’s still not quite real,” Michele Farabee said. “All of us have our moments with breaking down.”
“It just hurts,” Richard Farabee said. “My heart hurts. My body hurts. I don’t know if my heart is strong enough to get through it.”
Times-Independent reporter Jeff Richards contributed to this story.