Charging document: driver hit 130 mph during February police pursuit
March 5, 2013
The driver accused of leading law enforcement on a pursuit through Park City, the Snyderville Basin and into the Salt Lake Valley in February reached speeds of 130 mph as he eluded capture, a charging document claims.
Jason Bennett, who is 37 years old, faces two charges stemming from the pursuit, both felonies. He is a transient, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office has said, and the charging document does not list a last known address for Bennett.
The more serious count, a second-degree felony, is a charge of theft by receiving stolen property. The other, which is a third-degree felony, is failing to respond to an officer’s signal to stop. A second-degree felony is punishable by between one and 15 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.
It is an extraordinarily fast speed for a pursuit in Park City or the surrounding county. It is rare for a driver to be pulled over at 100 mph on roads in Park City or the Basin. The charging document does not provide details about the 130 mph, including at what point during the pursuit the driver reached the speed and where he was located at the time. Bennett acknowledged that he hit 130 mph, prosecutors said in the charging document.
The Sheriff’s Office early in the investigation said the driver had reached speeds of approximately 95 mph along the S.R. 224 entryway into Park City, itself a rare speed to hit in the Park City area.
Bennett remains in the Summit County Jail. Bail is set at $50,000, cash only. He has been appointed a public defender. His next court date is next Monday.
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David Shapiro, who was appointed the public defender on Monday, said he had not been provided information about the case and declined to discuss the charges.
Summit County Attorney David Brickey said there have been terrible accidents when suspects flee from the authorities at high speeds.
"We’re going to pursue it to its conclusion," Brickey said about the case.
The charging document outlines the law enforcement side of the pursuit. Many of the details had been released shortly after the Feb. 19 car chase. The charging document claims that the maroon 1997 Nissan Maxima was stolen on Feb. 6 at a gas station in Salt Lake County.
On the day of the pursuit, a Sheriff’s Office deputy saw the Maxima parked at a gas pump at a station on S.R. 224. The deputy saw what is described as a "faded temporary tag in the rear window" but was not able to see if it was a valid tag. The deputy followed the vehicle as it left the gas station and entered Interstate 80 eastbound.
The charging document claims the Maxima rapidly accelerated to approximately 80 mph, prompting the deputy to turn on the overhead lights and siren in an attempt to pull the driver over.
The pursuit involved the Sheriff’s Office, the Park City Police Department and the Utah Highway Patrol. It unfolded on roads like S.R. 224, Trailside Drive and Ute Boulevard. A highway patrol trooper put down tire spikes to stop the driver, but he swerved to avoid them. The charging document says the Maxima hit another vehicle at that point, "ripping off its bumper in the process."
The driver left on Interstate 80 westbound with troopers pursuing him through Parley’s Canyon, according to the charging document. Law enforcement, citing safety concerns, stopped the pursuit when the driver exited onto Foothill Drive.
"The defendant’s conduct clearly posed a serious threat to the public’s safety and specifically to anyone traveling on roadways in Summit and Salt Lake Counties," the charging document says.
The charging document indicates the car was discovered at a Salt Lake City used car lot. The Sheriff’s Office has said a lieutenant went to the vicinity of where the vehicle was found abandoned to look into leads on Feb. 27. The lieutenant saw a man matching the description of the suspect. It was Bennett. He confessed to being the driver and said he "did not want to get caught in a stolen vehicle," according to the charging document.