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Charges dismissed in suspected fatal DUI crash near Moab

Published March 15, 2013 11:49 am

Courts • Suspect in Moab fatal, charged with auto homicide, suffered disabilities.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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