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Wasatch County

Heber Valley parents of four, ‘pillars’ of community, die in Hawaii car crash

heber couple hawaii.jpg
Credit BYU Law, Intermountain Healthcare
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Rebecca van Uitert and Jason Howell

A Heber City couple, parents to four children, died in a car crash last weekend while on vacation in Hawaii.

A Heber City couple, parents to four children, died in a car crash last weekend while on vacation in Hawaii.

Jason Howell and Rebecca van Uitert died Sunday in a two-car accident. They were both 44 years old.

Howell was a doctor who practiced family medicine at the Intermountain Heber Valley Clinic, and van Uitert a professor at BYU Law School. They were driving in a Jeep toward Hilo on the main island of Hawaii.

The driver of the other car, a 34-year-old native of the nearby town Volcano named Maile Robello, also died. According to Hawaii Police, Robello was driving a Toyota 4Runner and crossed over a double yellow line on a two-lane highway and hit the Jeep head-on.

In an announcement Wednesday, BYU Law Dean D. Gordon Smith said the Utah couple’s four children were in Utah with grandparents at the time of the accident.

“She leaves a lasting legacy," said Lynnette Rands, BYU Law School dean of communications. "Her entire family were a huge part of many communities. She was just wholehearted in everything that she did and has helped so many people in immigration law, as well as building leadership skills and helping our students. She forged great careers in the law. She’s impacted so many lives, and we feel a great loss.”

In response to Smith’s post on Facebook, friends and colleagues expressed sadness, shock and condolences to their children. They described the pair as people of great character and “pillars in the Heber Valley community.” Self-identified patients of Howell praised his care, and clients of van Uitert hailed her reputation for human rights advocacy.

Heber Valley Hospital Administrator Si Hutt said Howell was always a positive presence. In addition, he said his colleagues recently elected him to be medical staff president, and several of them chose him to be their own families’ doctor.

“He was the type of person who’s very consistent,” Hutt said. “Whether you knew him as a patient or as a colleague or just on the street, he was just a very kind person.”

Howell was also a ride leader on the Wasatch Mountain Bike Team, and three of his children are on the team.

Hawaii Police said a local unit is investigating the accident as a potential negligent homicide, and detectives are awaiting autopsy results to determine causes.