A man who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a Logan Canyon crash that critically injured four teenagers will be sentenced during an in-person setting this month.
Dustin Wesley Andersen, 46, appeared in 1st District Court on Monday for a hearing on whether or not sentencing in his case would take place in-person. Judge Brandon Maynard found exigent circumstances for an in-person sentencing and allowed each victim and Andersen to have two “support people” present during the proceeding.
“Given the gravity of the injuries,” Maynard said, “I am persuaded …”
In a motion filed with the court, Cache County prosecutors argued that the “extraordinary facts” of the case justified an in-person hearing despite COVID-19 restrictions on the court.
“Merely permitting victims to address their computer screen is essentially a refusal to allow them an opportunity to adequately participate, resulting in secondary harm,” prosecutors wrote.
During Monday’s hearing, attorney for the victims Heidi Nestel asked the court for an in-person proceeding to ensure the victims would be treated “even-handedly.” Nestel argued it would be “highly prejudicial” for the victims not to be heard in-person as was their right at sentencing.
“It means to be heard in a meaningful and compelling way,” Nestel said.
Andersen pleaded guilty in March to two counts of third-degree driving under the influence and two counts of class-A driving under the influence. The charges stemmed from a near head-on collision on July 30 where four southbound teenagers were seriously injured.
Utah Highway Patrol troopers wrote in an affidavit filed with the court that Andersen crossed a double yellow line and piloted his pickup into a black Kia car. Troopers wrote yaw marks were over 250 feet long and indicated Andersen was traveling over 50 miles per hour.
Troopers wrote the odor of alcohol was noticeable in an “open-air environment,” and several indicators of impairment were observed, but Andersen refused to perform a portable breath test.
Prosecutors allege Andersen had a blood alcohol concentration of .22
All passengers in the Kia sustained “critical injuries,” troopers wrote. One passenger had a fractured femur and one had a punctured lung. Another had an abdominal contusion and the right rear passenger was paralyzed.
Andersen is set to be sentenced on April 26.