Julia Quinn, the author behind the Bridgerton novels on which the hit Netflix series is based, is mourning the loss of her father and sister. In a heartbreaking post Wednesday night, Quinn shared that her 77-year-old dad Steve Cotler and 37-year-old sister Violet Charles (real name Ariana Elise Cotler) were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on June 29 involving a drunk driver whose blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.
Quinn shared the news in an emotional social media post, writing, "I have lost my father and my sister." The romance author explained the crash was the result of a catering company that failed to "secure its load and canvas bags spilled onto the highway" and a pickup driver who "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."
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According to the Utah Highway Patrol, the fatal collision occurred at around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29 on a Davis County freeway after "a catering company lost their load of canvas bags on to the freeway." Two vehicles slowed to miss the debris. The Highway Patrol said a "Ford F-250 came upon the stopped traffic and collided into a red Toyota Prius out of California," which was occupied by Cotler, the driver, and Charles, the passenger. The Prius was then struck by another vehicle, and the two occupants of the vehicle "sustained fatal injuries and died on scene." Another adult male was taken by medical helicopter in critical condition, and the driver of F-250 suffered minor injuries and was arrested for DUI. Charles' service dog Michelle also died in the crash.
News of their deaths was first shared by Cotler's Facebook page via a statement from his children that read, "Our father Steve Cotler was killed by a drunk driver in a crash that also took the life of his youngest daughter, the noted cartoonist Violet Charles." Like his daughter, Cotler was a writer and was known for penning the children's book series Cheesie Mack. His children said Cotler "also took particular delight in being 'the most embarrassing dad ever' and may have clinched this award in the late 70s with an appearance on the Gong Show."
According to Quinn, whose historical romance novels have been best-sellers, she and her sister "had just finished a graphic novel" prior to the tragic late June crash. That graphic novel was to be dedicated to their father. The author said, "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."