Driver involved in deadly 2017 crash on U.S. 40 sentenced to 120 days in jail
A Layton man who crashed into a vehicle on U.S. 40 in Summit County in 2017 while browsing the internet on his phone, killing a Duchesne man and paralyzing a West Jordan woman, was sentenced on Monday to serve 120 days in jail.
Nathaniel Richard Bone, 38, pleaded guilty in June to a third-degree felony count of automobile homicide in Summit County’s 3rd District Court.
Bone originally faced one count of text messaging or email automobile homicide, a second-degree felony, and one count of texting or emailing while driving, a class B misdemeanor. Automobile homicide, which is the most serious charge, is punishable upon conviction by between one and 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Prosecutors lowered the automobile homicide charge from a second-degree felony to a third-degree felony and drop one count of texting or emailing while driving as part of a plea agreement.
A judge on Monday imposed a zero-to-five year sentence at the Utah State Prison. The judge suspended that sentence and ordered Bone to serve 120 days in jail. He will also be placed on supervised probation for 36 months and be required to complete a cognitive restructuring class, as well as other standard terms and conditions associated with his plea bargain.
Bone’s attorney, Greg Skordas, said the 120-day jail sentence is fair. He said the defense argued for a shorter sentence because Bone has a family to support and “a very good job and we know most employers don’t hold jobs open for 120 days.”
“Nathaniel was open and honest with the police from the beginning immediately after the accident and, but for his coming forward, he probably would have never been charged,” Skordas said in an email. “I think the prosecutors and the judge recognized that in not imposing a longer jail term.”
Bone’s Kenworth tractor trailer was pulling two tankers filled with crude oil when he rear-ended a 1998 Saturn sedan in the westbound lanes of U.S. 40 near mile marker 6 in Summit County in May 2017.
Court documents state the Saturn was severely damaged and the rear bumper was smashed into the back of the front seats of the vehicle. The driver of the Saturn, Sandra Bowden, 40, of West Jordan, complained of back pain when troopers found her and was transported in a medical helicopter to a hospital in Salt Lake County. She sustained several broken ribs and lacerated organs, and was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the accident, according to court documents.
A passenger in the vehicle, Landon Peatross, of Duchesne, was transported to Park City Hospital and pronounced dead within 40 minutes of the crash. He was 41.
Prosecutors allege Bone, who was traveling from the Uinta Basin to a refinery in Salt Lake City, originally told police he had looked down at his GPS device prior to the collision and was unable to stop when he approached the Saturn in his lane.
Bone later told investigators he “had to tell the truth” and that he was browsing KSL.com on his phone to look at cars for his wife before the crash, according to court documents.
Bone’s truck was equipped with an in-car dash camera, which showed the Saturn passed him in the left lane when his truck was traveling around 32 miles per hour, according to court documents.
Footage from a dashboard camera on Bone’s truck showed a deer appeared to run across the highway in front of Bowden’s Saturn immediately before the accident, according to court documents. Bone’s tractor trailer hit the Saturn while it was traveling 39 miles per hour.
Ryan Stack, a who prosecuted the case for the Summit County Attorney’s Office, said the office respects the sentence, calling it appropriate.
“But, we recognize that no sentence could ever make up for the enduring and painful losses suffered by the Peatross family and Ms. Bowden,” Stack said in an email. “This tragic case is a compelling lesson about the dangers of distracted driving.”
Bowden expressed similar feelings about the dangers of using a phone while driving in a statement Stack provided to The Park Record.
“The only thing I would really express is not to play on your phone while driving cause it does change families’ lives forever,” she stated. “I am living proof. I want my accident to be a lesson for others out there.”