Intoxicated Utah Boat Driver Arrested for Automobile Homicide

An intoxicated Utah boat driver was arrested for automobile homicide for allegedly causing the death of one of his passengers while boating in Flaming Gorge over Mother’s Day weekend.

Drinking and sailing

Photo by: Ozzy Delaney

25 year old Corey Eggleston of Vernal, Utah was arrested for automobile homicide and DUI charges after one of his passengers fell from the boat and drowned. Eggleston admitted had been drinking alcohol while operating the boat at Flaming Gorge Reservoir Saturday when he made a maneuver that caused the boat to start taking on water. That maneuver resulted in multiple passengers of Eggleston’s boat to fall into the water. None of the passengers were wearing life vests and one male passenger was pronounced dead after being pulled from the water.

Automobile homicide

Eggleston was booked into Uintah County Jail on DUI charges as well as automobile homicide. Utah Code 76-5-207 states: “Criminal homicide is automobile homicide, a third degree felony, if the person operates a motor vehicle in a negligent manner causing the death of another and:
(i) has sufficient alcohol in his body . . . of .05 grams or greater at the time of the test;
(ii) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle [or boat]; or
(iii) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .05 grams or greater at the time of operation.”
If the person was found to behaving in a criminally negligent manner when they caused the death of another, the charges would be increased to a second degree felony.

Negligence when boating

Section 76-5-207 goes on to explains that “. . . negligent means simple negligence, the failure to exercise that degree of care that reasonable and prudent persons exercise under like or similar circumstances.”Criminal negligence on the other hand is defined by 76-2-103 as “. . . when [the actor] ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise in all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.”

Mistake or “gross deviation” of care

Although Eggleston likely didn’t intent to cause the death of his passenger, drinking while operating the boat was considered a negligent act and could have been prevented by choosing sobriety while boating instead. No details have been released stating how much Eggleston had been drinking or whether or not, prior to the incident, he was behaving in a manner that would show a disregard for the safety of others (other than his consuming alcohol.) Anyone facing charges for negligently causing the death or another is encouraged to seek the help of a qualified attorney to ensure intent and level of negligence is honestly portrayed during court proceedings.

Pedestrian and Others Injured in Dog Attack

Three women are recovering from injuries after a dog attack which first targeted a pedestrian and then two bystanders who rushed to help.

Two animals involved in dog attack

Dog Attack

Photo by: State Farm

20 year old Sierra Coe of Millville Utah was walking home from the post office when she was attacked by two animals, a 4 year old Pit Bull and 10 month old Great Dane who had escaped their yard. Two female neighbors heard Coe’s screams for help and rushed to her aid, only to be attacked themselves. Although both animals were involved in the dog attack, the physical injuries which included deep puncture wounds and damaged tendons were done almost entirely by the Pit Bull.

Dog’s fate sealed, owner’s pending

The 4 year old Pit Bull who the owners were trying to rehabilitate had a history of biting and ended up being euthanized. The Great Dane puppy will undergo observation and training before being placed for adoption by Cache County Animal Control. The owners of the two dogs may end up facing criminal charges, pending an investigation. There is also no word yet on whether or not the victims will seek compensation for their injuries.

One bite rule not in Utah

Many states use what is called the one bite rule regarding dog attacks. This means that the first time a dog bites a person then the owner shouldn’t face charges as long as the dog had no violent history and the owners weren’t negligent in any way. In Utah however, every dog is not allowed “one free bite”. Utah Code 18-1-1 which amends the one bite law states “Every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog, and it is not necessary in the action brought therefor to allege or prove that the dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper of the dog knew that it was vicious or mischievous.” The first time a dog bites someone, the owners are liable even if the dog didn’t show any prior signs of aggression.

Consult an attorney

Although it may seem that charges are inevitable following a dog attack, there are always factors to take into account such as provocation by the victim that may remove all or partial blame from the owners. For this reason, it is best to consult with an attorney if facing charges following a dog attack.

Automobile Homicide

A 14 year old Taylorsville teenager was struck and killed by a car on Halloween night and it is not believed that the driver will face charges of automobile homicide.

Trick or treating nightmare

Photo by: _zhang

Photo by: _zhang

The 14 year old teenage girl was out trick or treating with a group of friends when she entered a crosswalk located on 2700 West just north of Bennion Junior High School in Taylorsville, Utah. As she began crossing the road, a van driven by an adult woman struck and killed her.

Accident versus being negligent

It is improbable that drivers who cause the death of a pedestrian for reasons such as poor visibility due to a dark costume (which may have been the case here) will face charges of automobile homicide. According to Utah Code 76-5-207 and 76-5-207.5, there are two circumstances in which a driver may be charged with automobile homicide following a fatal auto-pedestrian accident, such as:

• If the driver is distracted by a cell phone or other hand-held device or

• If the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

While an investigation is still pending, it doesn’t appear that the driver was impaired in any way and thus she will likely be spared automobile homicide charges for the death of the 14 year old girl.

Criminally negligent

Photo by: Lord Jim

Photo by: Lord Jim

If a driver is found to have been driving while intoxicated or on their phone when an accident occurs, they could face a 3rd degree felony for automobile homicide. That charge would increase to a 2nd degree felony if the driver is perceived as being criminally negligent. Utah Code 76-2-102 defines being criminally negligent as deliberately causing the accident, “recklessly with respect to circumstances […]”, or if the driver should have known that their actions could cause the accident to occur. If a driver is ever facing automobile homicide, it is vital to seek experienced, professional counsel to avoid up to 15 years in prison that can come from a 2nd degree felony.