Driver charged with felony in scuffle with bicyclist
Monday morning a Kamas driver accused of injuring a cyclist when he swerved a truck at him and crushed his bike is scheduled to appear in 3rd District Court in the Snyderville Basin.
A. Jason Barto, 41, is charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony and two misdemeanor traffic violations. Barto has not returned telephone calls seeking comment.
Perhaps Barto is best known for campaigning unsuccessfully for a seat on the Kamas City Council in 2007. He also has expressed interest in running for the mayor post in Kamas next year.
"He probably won’t get a lot of votes," said Park City resident Don Hauer, who claims Barto was "buzzing" and "harassing" bicyclists Aug. 2 on the Mirror Lake Highway in Kamas. "I would like to see the prosecutors charge this guy with attempted murder or assault with a deadly weapon."
Hauer was riding in the Tour de Park City when, he said Barto came "by literally six inches off the left of my handlebars."
Hauer then came upon a cyclist Barto allegedly struck with his pickup truck a few minutes later. So he said he contacted dispatchers at the Summit County Sheriff’s Office about 9:35 a.m.
"Two cyclists had this guy and the [Barto’s] T-shirt was ripped," Hauer said. "From what everybody was saying, this guy had purposely smacked into the rider Just ran him over and his bike was literally under the truck."
The bike frame was broken into pieces, he added.
Barto then tried "to get back in his truck and take off," said Hauer, who was there at the time.
"They had him up against that truck and were yelling at him," said Hauer, who is 54 years old. "The other motorists were saying, ‘Just get his keys. Get his keys.’"
People convicted of third-degree felonies in Utah could spend up to five years in prison and pay a $5,000 fine.
"I just don’t think that is a long enough prison term for somebody who tried to kill another person," Hauer said. "It was scary."
He described Barto as "shell shocked" at the scene of the crash.
"From what [witnesses] saw, he just pointed his vehicle right into this guy and plowed over him on purpose," Hauer said. "This was an intentional act."
Drivers in Utah must stay at least three feet from bicyclists when it’s safe to do so. But cyclist/driver relations are strained in Summit County.
Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt contacted deputies July 26 when somebody in his town threatened to stop bicyclists by spreading gravel on the road.
"Cyclists have just as much right to the road as anybody driving in a car or anybody who has lived on that road for generations," Schmidt said about the threat he overheard. "A lot of times the ranchers might not understand the bicycle thing and the people who are riding the bicycle may not get the guy who is out there moving water pipe."
Hauer said the number of road cyclists in the county jumped significantly in the past decade.
"Do you hate golfers so much that you go off the road and run people over on the putting green?" Hauer asked. "Cyclists are not going away. We need to share the road."
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