Charges dismissed in suspected fatal DUI crash near Moab
Courts • Eric Yazzie, charged with automobile homicide and DUI, is confined to wheelchair, has mental capacity of a 10-year-old.
Published: March 15, 2013 11:49AM
Updated: March 19, 2013 01:44PM

Charges have been dismissed against a Phoenix man who was injured after a suspected DUI crash that killed another man in Moab.

Erik H. Yazzie, 33, was charged in 7th District Court in Monticello with automobile homicide, driving under the influence, theft by receiving stolen property and improper lane change connected to an April 21 accident that killed Filemon Montoya, 57.

On Monday, San Juan County Attorney Craig Halls asked Judge Lyle Anderson to dismiss all the charges against Yazzie because he was permanently disabled in the accident.

Halls said on Friday that Yazzie’s family provided his office with documentation from a physician detailing that since the accident, Yazzie has been confined to a wheelchair and has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old.

“It’s an unfortunate circumstance,” Halls said. “He received severe injuries in the accident.”

On April 21, Yazzie left a Moab restaurant without paying, according to charges filed in 7th District Court, took a 2003 Ford Taurus and drove south on U.S. Highway 191. About 15 miles south of Moab, the Utah Highway Patrol has said, Yazzie crossed the center line and crashed head-on into Montoya’s Ford Escape.

Montoya died at the scene. Yazzie received significant injury. A helicopter flew him to a hospital in Grand Junction, Colo.

Court documents claim Yazzie had a blood-alcohol level of 0.21 after the crash. Utah law considers .08 too drunk to drive.

The criminal charges were filed in July of last year. Halls said it took several months to verify Yazzie’s diminished mental capacity and the extent of his injuries after the crash.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller