A man pleaded guilty on Monday to charges stemming from a head-on collision in Logan Canyon that injured four Clearfield-area teenagers.
Dustin Wesley Andersen, 46, pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree driving under the influence and two counts of class-A driving under the influence. One class-B misdemeanor was dismissed.
Cache County prosecutor Tony Baird asked the court for an in-person setting for sentencing in the case, stating the victims deserved to be heard in a “live setting” even if that resulted in delays in the case.
“This isn’t just a typical felony DUI,” Baird told the court. “Lives have been altered.”
Currently, in-person court proceedings without exigent circumstances have been suspended as a result of COVID-19 restrictions on Utah courts. Though he acknowledged the severity of the case, Judge Brandon Maynard said there were not exigent circumstances and delaying sentencing could violate Andersen’s legal right to be sentenced in no more than 45 days.
When asked his preference, Andersen told the court he did not want to waive that right and delay sentencing.
“I would prefer to get it done,” Andersen said.
Maynard, somewhat tentatively, set sentencing for April 26.
An April 12 date was also slated for a hearing on an expected motion from prosecutors arguing for an in-person proceeding. Maynard said if the motion wasn’t filed, the April 12 date would be struck and sentencing would move forward on April 26.
Prosecutors state Andersen was driving northbound through Logan Canyon toward Garden City when he lost control of his truck and hit a southbound vehicle head-on. There were four teenagers in the vehicle — a black Kia car, according to Utah Highway Patrol — all of whom sustained injuries. Baird told the court three of the car’s occupants received “serious bodily injury” and Andersen had a blood alcohol concentration of .22.
An affidavit filed with the court states yaw marks from Andersen’s truck were estimated to be over 250 feet in length, suggesting that he was traveling in excess of the 50 miles per hour speed limit. Highway Patrol troopers wrote the Kia’s driver had a fractured femur, one passenger had a punctured lung, another had an abdominal contusion and one passenger was paralyzed from the crash.
After the incident, community members in Utah and beyond rallied around the victims. A Change.org petition urging legislators for stiffer drinking and driving punishments amassed just shy of 5,000 signatures. And supporters of Sarah Frei, who was paralyzed and had both legs amputated after the crash, raised $90,000 through a crowdfunding campaign.
Recording artist Russell Dickerson even helped facilitate the donation of a new vehicle for Frei.
“I know that God is so good and he has sent angels to help me and to bless my life,” Frei wrote in a recent post on her Instagram account “strong.like.sarah” thanking Dickerson and others. “I am so grateful for this amazing vehicle that will help me to be independent and allow me to drive again!!”