'My whole car was demolished.' Woman who survived a fatal I-15 crash recounts the incident. - East Idaho News
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‘My whole car was demolished.’ Woman who survived a fatal I-15 crash recounts the incident.

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LATEST UPDATE: Man accused of killing 2 people with a dump truck facing 20 years in prison

POCATELLO — Since a car crash that claimed the lives of her sister and her friend, Mariah Morales has found it challenging to get into a car and impossible to travel on Interstate 15.

Mariah was heading from Idaho Falls to Pocatello for work on Aug. 9 when the crash occurred. She and her sister, Monique Morales, were the passengers in a Toyota Avalon driven by Jaren Goering.

As she describes it, Goering slowed with surrounding traffic. That was when a dump truck driven by 67-year-old Kenneth Conley crashed into the back of her car, then continued over the top of the Toyota, hit a pickup truck and continued into the back of a horse trailer before coming to a stop.

“The whole driver’s side of my car, on the back and the front, was smashed in,” Mariah said describing the crash. “The roof was torn off, my whole car was demolished — besides my seat.”

Kenneth Dale Conley
Kenneth Dale Conley | Bannock County Jail

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Asked how she survived the crash, Mariah told EastIdahoNews.com, “I’m still not sure.”

The only difference between Mariah and the others is, she was on the right side of the car. When Conley crashed into the Toyota, he did so at an angle that took him from the center of the Toyota toward the driver’s side.

That path left the front-right side of the car with significantly less damage, while the force created on the other side was enough to push both Goering and Monique toward Mariah.

Goering, Mariah said, ended up in her lap, while Monique, who was seated in the center of the backset with her seatbelt on, ended up behind Mariah’s seat.

i15 crash
The Toyota Avalon Mariah, Monique and Goering were in when the crash occurred. | Logan Ramsey, EastIdahoNews.com

Mariah said she met Goering through work, selling solar door-to-door, and the two became fast-friends. The trio worked together often and Mariah described her sister and friend as loyal and friendly.

“They were two of the best people I’ve ever met,” she said. “Monique was very selfless and kind — she loved to help dogs and she was fostering a child. She was just always helping anybody who was in need of help. Jaren was very driven; very smart; very empathetic.”

With her sister gone at 27, Mariah said her family is struggling but trying its best to get by.

“We’re handling it as well as you can. Our only real option is to just keep going, but everyone is just heartbroken,” Mariah said.

Making matters worse, after the accident she looked into Conley and learned he has a very checkered driving records.

Court records show Conley has been cited for six traffic violations since 2013 along with a misdemeanor charge for inattentive or careless driving in 2005.

“This could have very easily been prevented, had somebody seen his driving record and stopped him from driving such a large truck,” Mariah said.

And things only got worse, as Mariah learned Conley was involved in another crash days after the crash that took the two lives. A month after that crash, Conley was involved in yet another crash, and was arrested and charged in Madison County for failure to remain at the scene of the crash.

“I wanted take matters into my own hands to get him off the road, but there is nothing I can legally do,” she said.

Mariah had to wait until Tuesday for legal action.

According to Jonathan Redford, the Bannock County Deputy Prosecutor handling the case, Conley was arrested Tuesday night on a Bannock County warrant related to the Aug. 9 crash. He will be charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter, Redford told EastIdahoNews.com.

Though Mariah said traveling on I-15 is difficult and “getting in a car in general freaks me out,” she said she is willing to brave the journey to appear in court.

“I know that will help … so I am willing to do it,” she said. “Obviously, it’s going to be hard to go out there and speak about it in front of everyone, but it’s definitely something I’m willing to do.”

As for the penalty she believes Conley deserves, Mariah said she was first hopeful he would receive the death penalty. But she has since looked into the crime for which Conley has been charged.

“The max sentence for felony vehicular manslaughter is 15 years — he’s getting two of those, so I’m hoping for 30 years,” Mariah said.

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