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Press Release

San Juan County Man Sentenced to 180 Months’ Imprisonment Following Deadly Crash that Killed a 5-Year-Old Girl

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah – Qwana McCook, 30 of White Mesa, Utah, was sentenced today to 15 years’ imprisonment, five years supervised release and ordered by the court to pay $250,000 in restitution. The sentence, imposed by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Robert J. Shelby, comes after McCook admitted to stealing a truck from a victim, who had her 5-year-old daughter in the back seat, and later crashing the vehicle which ejected and killed the child. 

According to court documents and statements made at the change of plea hearing, McCook pleaded guilty in March 2024 to robbery and first degree felony murder while on the White Mesa Indian Reservation.

On May 8, 2022, McCook unlawfully took a vehicle from the victim’s mother without her permission while on the White Mesa Indian Reservation. Despite pleas from the child’s mother and family members, McCook did not return the child home and instead purchased alcohol. As alleged, in court documents and by McCook’s passenger and co-defendant, McCook began drinking and driving. At the time of the crash, McCook was traveling well above the speed limit. As a result of the crash, the child was ejected from the truck and declared dead at the scene. 

“This case is a horrific reminder that carjackings threaten the lives of innocent victims. McCook’s senseless actions are reprehensible and caused the terrible death of a young girl,” said United States Attorney Trina A. Higgins for the District of Utah. “My office will continue to vigorously prosecute those who use violence to destroy the safety of our communities.”  

“McCook’s extremely selfish decisions that day will forever impact a family who is left grieving the loss of their young daughter,” said Special Agent in Charge Shohini Sinha of the Salt Lake City FBI. “Although nothing will bring the child back, we hope the sentence will send a sobering message about the devastating consequences of drinking and driving.”

McCook’s co-defendant, Augustice Yellow, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony and will be sentenced at a later date. 

The case was investigated jointly by the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office’s Monticello Resident Agency, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Navajo Nation Patrol and Investigations and the Utah Highway Patrol.  

Assistant United States Attorney Thaddeus J. May of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah prosecuted the case. 
 

Contact

Felicia Martinez
Public Affairs Specialist
Felicia.martinez@usdoj.gov
(801) 325-3237
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Updated May 29, 2024

Topics
Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-63