Bridgerton author’s father and sister killed in horrific highway pile-up in Utah by drunk driver

Bridgerton author Julia Quinn has suffered a double tragedy after her father and younger sister were killed by a drunk driver in an horrific car accident.

The 51-year-old American novelist announced the shocking news to fans in a heart-rending Facebook post, telling them: ‘I have lost my father and my sister. 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 three times the legal limit.

‘I have lost my father, and I don’t have my sister with whom to grieve.’

Ms Quinn – real name Julia Pottinger – said her father, Steve Cotler, 77, and cartoonist sister Violet Charles, 37 – real name Ariana Elise Cotler – died on June 29 in the crash in Utah, along with Violet’s dog Michelle.

The crash, at 8.30pm on Interstate 15 in Davis County, involved multiple vehicles according to the State Highway Patrol.

After the lorry shed its load of bags, various vehicles, including the Prius containing the Cotlers, came to a halt, but the drunk driver’s huge Ford F-250 pickup truck crashed into the rear of the Prius, forcing it into a third car, whose two occupants were also seriously injured. Another man was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition. 

Both the Cotlers died at the scene. The pick-up driver had minor injuries and was arrested.

Myron Millsap Barlow, 38 was booked into the Davis County Jail for investigation of two counts of DUI automobile homicide, three counts of DUI causing serious injury, DUI, driving with an open container in his car, and following the car in front of him too closely, local media reported.

Bridgerton author Julia Quinn has suffered a double tragedy after her father and younger sister were killed by a drunk driver in an horrific car accident

Bridgerton author Julia Quinn has suffered a double tragedy after her father and younger sister were killed by a drunk driver in an horrific car accident

Bridgerton author Julia Quinn has suffered a double tragedy after her father and younger sister were killed by a drunk driver in an horrific car accident

Ms Quinn said her father, Steve Cotler (left), 77, and cartoonist sister Violet Charles, 37 – real name Elise Cotler - died on June 29 in the crash in Utah, along with Violet's dog Michelle

Ms Quinn said her father, Steve Cotler (left), 77, and cartoonist sister Violet Charles, 37 – real name Elise Cotler - died on June 29 in the crash in Utah, along with Violet's dog Michelle

Ms Quinn said her father, Steve Cotler (left), 77, and cartoonist sister Violet Charles, 37 – real name Elise Cotler – died on June 29 in the crash in Utah, along with Violet’s dog Michelle

Pictured: Quinn (centre) on the set of Bridgerton with actresses Claudia Jessie (left) and Nicola Coughlan

Pictured: Quinn (centre) on the set of Bridgerton with actresses Claudia Jessie (left) and Nicola Coughlan

Pictured: Quinn (centre) on the set of Bridgerton with actresses Claudia Jessie (left) and Nicola Coughlan 

Ms Quinn said she was collaborating on a graphic novel with Violet which they had just completed, to be dedicated to their father.

She added: ‘it will still be dedicated to our father. 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.’

She also shared a message along with her other siblings as a tribute to her father, who had a career in business after graduating from Harvard, but then became a screenwriter and children’s author, penning the successful Cheesie Mack series of books.

Violet Charles, a talented cartoonist had just finished illustrating ta graphic novel called Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron, according to her Instagram feed. She also created a character called Bridget Over Troubled Waters. 

Ms Quinn’s period drama Bridgerton became the most successful series on Netflix after it was launched last year and has also won a devoted following on ITV in Britain.

Ms Quinn told in the online family tribute of when she finally stopped being embarrassed by her father: ‘It was his 25th reunion. I was a sophomore, so I stayed in Cambridge to attend the festivities with him. The entire class of ’65 had gone to a club in Boston for dancing, and Janet Jackson came on the speakers. My father started dancing very badly (typical) but with great enthusiasm (also typical). I saw a few teenagers pointing and snickering, and I thought, ‘Yeah, you WISH your dad danced like that.’

‘After that, I felt nothing but pride in his geekiness. He was willing to try almost anything, and he never let the fear of embarrassment rule his actions. As a friend said after his sudden death, ‘We should all be a little more Steve.’

Bridgerton hit ITV screens last Christmas, and worldwide, it received a record 82m viewers in its first month alone on Netflix.

Fans were captivated by the crackling on-screen chemistry between British actors Phoebe Dynevor playing Daphne Bridgerton and Regé-Jean Page, as the Duke of Hastings. Page has since been widely tipped to be the next James Bond.

Before its blockbuster launch, Netflix described Bridgerton as ‘the sexy, lavish and competitive world’ of Regency London ‘from the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair to the aristocratic palaces of Park Lane and beyond’.

Its colour-blind casting which saw Page playing Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, raised some eyebrows, but author Ms Quinn said in a message to fans of the series: ‘I am in utter love with every single casting choice… Each of these actors will bring depth and magic to the characters in ays that have me shivering with anticipation.

‘I know that some of you are concerned that the actors don’t match the descriptions in books, but I’m not. I didn’t even remember that Simon had blue eyes. Let that sink in for a second. I created the character, but I didn’t recall the colour of his eyes.

‘But you know what I did remember? I remembered his wit, and I remembered how much he adored Daphne…

‘Regé-Jean Page is a brilliant actor, and if I’m allowed to objectify him for one brief moment, he is BEAUTIFUL, and I could stare at him all day. He is every piece of Simon that matters.’

She added: ‘This series is going to be amazing, and I for one can’t wait.’  

Ms Quinn's period drama Bridgerton became the most successful series on Netflix after it was launched last year and has also won a devoted following on ITV in Britain. Pictured: Regé-Jean Page (left) and Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton

Ms Quinn's period drama Bridgerton became the most successful series on Netflix after it was launched last year and has also won a devoted following on ITV in Britain. Pictured: Regé-Jean Page (left) and Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton

Ms Quinn’s period drama Bridgerton became the most successful series on Netflix after it was launched last year and has also won a devoted following on ITV in Britain. Pictured: Regé-Jean Page (left) and Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton

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