CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Parents of boy killed in meth-fueled, high speed crash sue Utah state agencies

May 2, 2024, 9:00 PM

Bobby Ratliff, left, and his wife, Theresa, hold hands a memorial service for their son, Odin, and ...

Bobby Ratliff, left, and his wife, Theresa, hold hands a memorial service for their son, Odin, and Odin’s friend, Hunter Jackson, at Cedar Valley Stables in Eagle Mountain on Thursday, May 5, 2022. Odin and Hunter, both 3, were killed when they were hit and killed by an out-of-control car. (Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

(Mengshin Lin, Deseret News)

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah — The family of a three-year-old boy who was killed in a high speed crash involving a driver high on meth two years ago this week has filed a lawsuit against the state of Utah and multiple agencies, arguing their son’s death should have been prevented. 

Odin Ratliff and Hunter Jackson, both 3, were playing with their toy trucks in a corral outside Cedar Valley Stables in Eagle Mountain on May 2, 2022, when the driver crashed through multiple fences at over 100 miles per hour. The crash killed both boys instantly. 

In 2022, Odin’s mother, Theresa Ratliff, told KSL TV’s Dan Rascon, both families wanted answers to the big question: Why? 

“What happened was absolutely the worst thing that could have ever happened to both of our families,” she said. “And it was 100% preventable.”

Police arrested Kent Barlow, who awaits trial on two murder charges stemming from that crash. Charging documents showed the presence of both “methamphetamine and amphetamines at a very high level” in Barlow’s blood, according to police. 

He spent years in and out of jail and prison before the 2022 crash. In one case, police say Barlow stole a police cruiser while fleeing from them, while on parole. He was also on parole at the time of the 2022 crash.

At issue in the lawsuit filed by Theresa and Robert Ratliff is whether Barlow should have been free when the crash occurred. The lawsuit notes the state “revoked Mr. Barlow’s parole for his August 23, 2019 crimes” on Sept. 28, 2021, just eight months before the fatal crash that killed their son, Odin. 

“In so doing, the State of Utah had incomparable access to know Mr. Barlow’s physical capabilities, mental capacities, and the danger Mr. Barlow presented to the public – as demonstrated by Mr. Barlow’s drug use and possession, theft of a motorcycle, theft of a police cruiser, and two high speed chases,” the lawsuit states.

In spite of that, the Ratliffs’ lawsuit alleges the state granted parole once again for Barlow less than one month later. It goes on to detail what the Ratliffs describe as multiple parole violations. 

“Despite Mr. Barlow’s indisputable parole violations, the State of Utah chose to keep Mr. Barlow on parole, thereby knowing and affirmatively allowing Mr. Barlow to endanger the public and himself,” the suit alleges. 

At the time of the boys’ deaths, the Board of Pardons and Parole released a statement expressing their condolences about what happened. 

“The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole shares in the widespread grief created by the senseless and irresponsible actions of Mr. Barlow that led to the tragic loss of Odin Ratliff and Hunter Jackson. These are two young boys taken far too soon, and it’s difficult to find words sufficient to comfort Odin and Hunter’s families and loved ones. 

“Mr. Barlow will be held accountable for the decisions he selfishly made, for the lives taken, and the lives that will be forever impacted. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of these precious young boys,” it said. “The Board is committed to participate in a careful and thorough review of Mr. Barlow’s actions that led to this heart-rending outcome.” 

The Ratliffs are asking for damages to be determined at trial, as well as punitive damages, and court costs. 

Read more: Chad Daybell’s family takes the stand in Boise murder trial

 

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Parents of boy killed in meth-fueled, high speed crash sue Utah state agencies