Driver who swerved at bicyclists will serve jail time
April 27, 2009
A Kamas man who collided with a bicyclist when he swerved his pickup truck at riders on the Mirror Lake Highway was ordered to serve 30 days in jail Monday.
Alexander Jason Barto, who was driving the truck, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in March.
"Thirty days is an appropriate jail sentence," 3rd District Court Judge Bruce Lubeck said Monday.
Barto was ordered to report to the Summit County jail by May 12 at 7 p.m.
Summit County prosecutor Paul Christensen asked Lubeck to impose a 60-day jail term.
"Easily, [the victim] could have been dead," Christensen said in court.
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Aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, could carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.
But this case warranted no jail time, said Greg Skordas, Barto’s attorney, in an interview outside the courtroom.
"I think there were plenty of opportunities for each side to terminate this whole encounter," Skordas said.
The bicyclist who Barto collided with was not seriously injured in the crash.
Barto has acknowledged he swerved at the bicyclists Aug. 2 to remind them they should ride single file instead of two abreast on the highway. A man’s roughly $12,000 road bicycle was crushed as the encounter nearly came to blows. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss nine additional charges stemming from the confrontation.
Barto had faced two felony aggravated-assault charges and eight other misdemeanor charges for operating a vehicle near a bicycle and for failing to register his truck.
"I don’t think I’ve really had a chance to share how terrible I feel about this," Barto said before he was sentenced. "I just tried to say to the cyclists, ‘How about riding single file guys?’"
Barto is perhaps best known for campaigning unsuccessfully for a seat on the Kamas City Council in 2007.
"I deeply regret that I took that course of action, and I’ve been sick about it since that happened," Barto said in court.