Minor Traffic Accident Escalates to Assault with a Vehicle

A minor traffic accident in southern Utah quickly escalated to assault with a vehicle after a driver decided he didn’t want to stay at the scene.

Fender Bender

Assault with a Vehicle

Photo by: Charles Wagner

20 year old Ethan Campbell Hansen of St. George, Utah was arrested for multiple misdemeanors as well as four felonies after being involved in a minor traffic accident during holiday festivities last week. The rear-ending accident itself was minor and would have likely ended in a traffic violation for Hansen of following too close. Unfortunately, the fender bender was just the beginning.

Traffic violation vs felony charges

Instead of waiting for police to come investigate the accident, Hansen attempted to flee. Two pedestrians were struck by Hansen’s vehicle, suffering minor injuries, while multiple others were able to get out of harm’s way. It was only then that Hansen decided to stay on scene. After authorities were able to obtain Hansen’s true identity and restrain him, he was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility. His charges include:

• Two Class C misdemeanors for criminal mischief and leaving the scene of a pedestrian accident;

• Two Class B misdemeanor for interfering with an arrest and failing to disclose identity;

• One third degree felony for assault by a prisoner; as well as

• Three other third degree felonies for aggravated assault with a vehicle (dangerous weapon).

Assault with a vehicle

Photo by: Dean Strelau

Utah Code 76-5-103 states that “aggravated assault is an actor’s conduct that is
i. An attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;

ii. A threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;

iii. An act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and

That includes the use of:

i. A dangerous weapon [any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury]”

Although no weapons were located on Hansen or in his vehicle, assault with a vehicle has the potential to cause serious injury or death and is categorized along with other weapons when used in an assault.

Go big and go to jail

Photo by: Washington County Sheriff’s Department

With four misdemeanor and four felony charges to face in court, Hansen has the potential to face over 20 years in prison and fines totaling nearly $35,000. No one is sure why Hansen chose to escalate the situation, seeing as he isn’t known to be a violent offender or have any criminal history at all; He may have been simply trying to run away from the problems he caused. Many younger adults are not educated on how to property react to intense situations and fleeing can often seem the best course of action at the time. It is imperative that they are taught the importance of staying on the scene of an accident and not expanding the situation by reacting poorly. Anyone facing charges for a minor or serious offense is encouraged to seek guidance from this point out from a qualified criminal defense attorney.

Up to 6 Months in Jail for Collecting Brine Shrimp Eggs without a Permit

According to Utah Code 23-20-3, without a permit, tag, or other type of registration, a person may face up to 6 months in jail and an $800 fine if they” commercially harvest protected wildlife, including brine shrimp and brine shrimp eggs.”

Seafood harvesting in Utah?

Brine Shrimp Eggs

Photo by: Saul Dolgin

Collecting seafood may be something that is typically conducted along coastal states; however the Great Salt Lake has its own salt water ecosystem that is home to millions of pounds of brine shrimp. According to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Program “Brine shrimp [commonly known as the Sea Monkeys] are crustaceans that inhabit salty waters around the world, both inland and on the coast. ( . . . ) Although small, they serve as an essential food source for millions of birds that breed or stopover at the Great Salt Lake during migration [;] and, in recent years, these shrimp support a multi-million dollar commercial harvest.”

Collecting brine shrimp eggs

The brine shrimp that inhabit the Great Salt Lake were discovered in the early 1950’s and used as food for larger fish. After a few years of harvesting the adult brine shrimp, harvesters noted the adults were dying off quickly in the fall but leaving behind cysts of brine shrimp eggs that were extremely durable. Harvesters quickly ceased collecting the adult shrimp, only to collect the brine shrimp eggs during the annual winter harvests and clean and ship them off around the world. The harvest for brine shrimp eggs usually lasts between October and January.

Protecting a resource

Photo by:
Liji Jinaraj

Once world was spread of the brine shrimp eggs in the Great Salt Lake, something had to be done to protect this saltwater resource. Each year, there are less than 80 permits issued to companies that harvest brine shrimp eggs. Along with the permit is the agreement that those companies will pay the state royalties in what the Brine Shrimp Royalty Act (59-23-3) defines as “3.75 cents multiplied by the total number of pounds of unprocessed brine shrimp eggs that the person harvests within the state during the tax year.”

Trouble ahead for egg collectors

As the shores of the Great Salt Lake continue to recede, the number of permits may decrease while penalties may rise for those who collect brine shrimp eggs without a permit. As it stands now, collecting brine shrimp eggs commercially can result in a class B misdemeanor if done without a permit. The Utah Department of Natural Resources R657-52-3 adds “A person [not with a company] may not harvest, possess, or transport brine shrimp or brine shrimp eggs without first obtaining a certificate of registration” or they may face a class C misdemeanor. For more information regarding fishing,hunting, or wildlife laws in general, contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. For assistance with legal charges, speak with an attorney immediately.

Felony Theft after Returning Found Property

A Draper, Utah man was arrested for felony theft after returning some property that he found in the middle of the road.

Debris from unsecured load

Felony Theft

Photo by: OiMax

47 year old Kent Spencer Dean was driving down 12300 South in Draper when he noticed a large power saw lying in the roadway. Not wanting an accident to result from the large item in the road, he quickly picked up the saw and placed it in the trunk of his car. Dean planned on finding the owner of the saw and returning it but first had to hurry to prior engagements he had including attending his daughter’s dance recital and a play with his family in Ogden.

Punishing a caring citizen

The 50 pound power saw that Dean had picked up belonged to the fire department and had fallen off an engine just moments before Dean noticed it in the road. Witnesses saw the event unfold and took down Dean’s license plate number for police. As Dean was going about his busy evening he received a phone call from the Draper Police Department inquiring about the saw. After stating what had happened while learning who the saw belonged to, Dean made arrangements to return the saw to the fire department later that evening. When he arrived, the fire department thanked him while the police department arrested him for felony theft of lost property.

Theft of lost property

Photo by: Nate Grigg

Photo by: Nate Grigg

The Draper Police Department was made aware of the circumstances surrounding Kent Dean’s temporary possession of the fire department’s saw and his plan of returning the lost item, however they were unwilling to drop the charges for felony theft of lost property. According to Utah Code 76-6-407, “A person commits theft [of lost property] when:
(1) He obtains property of another which he knows to have been lost or mislaid, or to have been
delivered under a mistake as to the identity of the recipient or as to the nature or amount of the
property, without taking reasonable measures to return it to the owner; and
(2) He has the purpose to deprive the owner of the property when he obtains the property or at any
time prior to taking the measures designated in paragraph (1).” (Emphasis added)
Sadly, it seems the Draper police assumed Dean intended on keeping the heavy, bulky saw; perhaps in the event that he one day might need to remove the roof off a vehicle.

Felony theft

While being accused with theft was bad enough, the charge was unfortunately increased to felony theft due to the high monetary value of the fire department’s saw. Utah Code 76-6-412 states that “Theft of property and services as provided in this chapter is punishable ( . . . ) as a third degree felony if: the value of the property or services is or exceeds $1,500 but is less than $5,000;” The saw was valued at around $2,000. For trying to be a good citizen by removing a large item from the roadway that had a high chance of causing an accident, Dean could face up to five years in prison as well as a $5,000 fine.

Ignore or Act?

Photo by: Ms. Phoenix

Photo by: Ms. Phoenix

Kent Dean could have avoided felony theft charges had he chosen to leave the power saw in the road, blocking a lane of traffic on a busy street. Instead he chose to protect other drivers from a hazardous situation, which in turn may have also prevented the fire department from facing their own charges of having an unsecured load, a class C misdemeanor. Hopefully the criminal charged brought against Kent Dean will not dissuade another citizen from making the right choice if the event that they are ever faced with a similar situation.