"I have lost my father and my sister. Because a catering company did not secure their load and canvas bags spilled onto the highway."
Bridgerton author Julia Quinn has lost both her father and sister in a car crash.
Stephen Cotler, 77, and his youngest daughter Violet Charles, 37, were killed on June 29 in a three-car pile up in Utah, caused when a catering company lost its load of canvass bags on the freeway.
According to the state Department of Public Safety, Cotler and his daughter (whose real name is Ariana Cotler) were driving behind in a red Toyota Prius, when they stopped or nearly stopped because of the debris.
But a green Ford F-250 behind them did not stop in time and ploughed into the back of their car, shunting them into a silver Chevy Malibu in front. The father and daughter died at the scene. Violet's beloved service dog Michelle also perished in the crash.
Another adult male passenger had to be flown to hospital, while the occupants of the Malibu were transported by ground in serious condition.
The driver of the F-250 meanwhile suffered only minor injuries; he was arrested for DUI.
An investigation into the crash is ongoing.
The Bridgerton writer shared the heartbreaking news on Facebook on Wednesday night:
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"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 3 times the legal limit," she wrote.
"I have lost my father, and I don't have my sister with whom to grieve."
"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. 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."
Publishing runs in the Cotler family: Violet was a cartoonist, while dad Steve was behind the celebrated children's book series Cheesie Mack.
In a tribute posted on his Facebook page, an anecdote previously written by Julia lovingly remembered the moment she stopped being embarrassed by "the most embarrassing dad ever".
"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.'"