Steve Cotler, Julia Quinn’s father, and the author of the Cheesie Mack series died last week during a tragic pileup in Utah. Both Cotler and his daughter, Violet Charles, were killed on June 29, when a drunk driver slammed into the back of their stopped car on Interstate 15 in Davis County.

Julia Quinn, the author of the Bridgerton series, announced their tragic death on Facebook. “I have lost my father and my sister,” the popular writer wrote in her post. “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.”

According to reports, the pileup began after a catering company’s truck lost its load of bags, causing several cars to stop short on the Utah highway, including Steve Cotler’s Prius. A drunk driver, who was driving his Ford F-250 pickup truck, slammed into the rear of the Prius, killing both Steve Cotler and Violet Charles, also known as Ariana Elise Cotler.

The force from the pickup truck sent the Prius flying into a third car, injuring two other occupants who are in critical condition. Both Cotlers were killed on the scene, as well as Violet’s dog, Michelle. The pickup truck driver left the scene with only minor injuries and was arrested by State Highway Patrol.

Julia Quinn lost her father and her younger sister simultaneously and used social media to share her pain with her fans. “I have lost my father, and I don’t have my sister with whom to grieve,” she wrote on Facebook.

Steve Cotler, Julia Quinn's father, was killed during a multi-car pileup after a drunk driver slammed into the rear of his Prius. Quinn's sister, Violet Charles was also killed in the accident.
Julia Quinn’s father, Steve Cotler, was killed during a multi-car pileup after a drunk driver slammed into the rear of his Prius. Quinn’s sister, Violet Charles was also killed in the accident. Photo Credit: Facebook

According to Julia Quinn, she and her sister had just finished working on a graphic novel together, which is to be dedicated to their father. “I have lost my sister Violet Charles Comics, with whom I had just finished writing a graphic novel,” Quinn continued in her post. “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.”

Violet Charles was a notable illustrator, known for her work on the unreleased Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron, as well as her original character, Bridget Over Troubled Waters.

Julia Quinn and her father, Steve Cotler, are both writers. Quinn’s Bridgerton series was adapted into a Netflix original series, which garnered more than 82 million views in its first month, and solidified itself as the most successful Netflix show of all time. Julia Quinn’s father inspired much of that talent, after fulfilling his writing dreams despite getting a business degree at Harvard.

Steve Cotler became a screenwriter and children’s author. He is best known for the Cheesie Mack book series, which follows a young boy on his wacky tales through adolescence. To honor their father, Julia Quinn and her other siblings shared a tribute message, which Quinn added below her Facebook post.

“On June 29, 2021, 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,” the tribute post read. “Violet’s beloved service dog Michelle also perished in the crash.”

According to the tribute message, Steve Cotler was an Oxnard, Calif. native who attended Harvard College and Harvard Business School. After working in the corporate world, Cotler discovered his love for writing and used “his heart” which “had never lost the spark of an 11-year-old boy” to fulfill his dreams and pursue “his true passion… writing.”

Julia Quinn and her siblings remembered their father as “the most embarrassing dad ever,” and explained that he “clinched this award in the late 70s with an appearance on the Gong Show. (He was gonged).” Continuing the post, Quinn recalled the story of when she finally stopped being embarrassed by her father:”

“It was his 25th reunion,” Quinn recalls. “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,” Quinn wrote. “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.’”

Julia Quinn is continuing her work on the massively successful Bridgerton series as a consultant for future seasons. Netflix has already renewed Bridgerton for a second season and also ordered a prequel series that will focus on the rise and love life of a young Queen Charlotte.