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Julia Quinn, Author Who Penned 'Bridgerton' Series, Loses Father, Sister In Crash Caused By Alleged Drunk Driver

Julia Quinn, whose first book from the 'Bridgerton' series was adapted into a popular Netflix show, announced the tragedy on her Facebook page. 

By Jax Miller
Julia Quinn Roberto Filho

The bestselling author of a historical romance series has announced that an alleged drunk driver in Utah caused the deaths of her father and sister.

Julia Quinn, who penned the "Bridgerton" series that inspired the popular Netflix show of the same name, shared the news on her Facebook page.

“I have lost my father and my sister,” Quinn captioned. “Because a catering company did not secure their load and canvas bags spilled onto the highway. Because a pickup driver thought nothing of driving while his blood alcohol level was nearly 3 times the legal limit.”

On July 1, 2021, Utah Highway Patrol in Davis County identified Quinn’s father, Stephen Lewis Cotler, 77, and sister, Ariana Elise Cotler, 37, as the victims of a multi-vehicle car crash on Interstate 15, according to Gephardt Daily.

The accident happened on June 24 at around 8:30 p.m. in Kaysville, Utah.

Both father and daughter died at the scene, while an unnamed man is currently being treated at a local hospital where he remains in critical condition.

Authorities arrested the driver who hit Stephen Cotler’s Prius for driving under the influence, according to the state highway patrol. He suffered minor injuries.

The accident occurred after equipment spilled from a van belonging to a catering company.

“A catering company lost their load of canvas bags onto the freeway,” said the Utah Highway Patrol, according to the Gephardt Daily. “Two cars stopped, or nearly stopped, for the debris. A green Ford F-250 came upon the stopped traffic and collided into a red Toyota Prius out of California. The Prius then struck a silver Chevy Malibu.”

Two occupants of the Malibu are also currently being treated and in serious condition.

“I have lost my father, and I don’t have my sister with whom to grieve,” Julia Quinn continued in her Facebook statement. “I have lost my sister Violet Charles Comics, with whom I had just finished writing a graphic novel. It was dedicated to our father.”

“It will still be dedicated to our father,” the statement continued. “It won’t be a surprise anymore, but I’d like to think he suspected we’d do it. He knew us so well. He was our dad.”

According to the children of Stephen Cotler, who made a statement on his children’s author page on Facebook, Ariana, who wrote under the pen name Violet Charles, was the youngest daughter in the family.

Her service dog, Michelle, also died in the crash.

The statement made by the Cotler children is filled with fond memories while noting Stephen’s accomplishments as a children’s author.

“He was willing to try almost anything, and he never let the fear of embarrassment rule his actions,” said Julia Quinn, according to the statement. “As a friend said after his sudden death, ‘We should all be a little more like Steve.’”

The State Bureau of Investigation and the Major Crash Investigation Team are assisting in the ongoing investigation, according to a press release from Utah’s Department of Public Safety.

The name of the suspected drunk driver has not been released. 

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