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Impaired driver who hit girl in Duchesne sent to prison
Court » Driver had smoked meth a day before crash, prosecutor says.
First Published Apr 19 2012 02:31 pm • Last Updated Apr 19 2012 11:36 pm

A Highland man who injured a 6-year-old girl last year in Duchesne while driving with methamphetamine in his system was sentenced to prison Thursday.

Joseph Mitchell Pantos, 45, had pleaded guilty in 8th District Court to reduced counts of third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance and class B misdemeanor driving with a measurable amount of a controlled substance in his system. He also pleaded guilty to a class C misdemeanor count of failing to yield to a pedestrian.

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Judge Douglas Thomas sentenced Pantos to prison for up to five years on the felony count, and ordered the other two counts to run concurrently.

The judge also ordered Pantos to pay at least $130,000 in victim restitution. That amount could rise, depending on future medical costs and therapy for the girl.

Pantos was arrested Sept. 29, 2011, after he hit the girl in a crosswalk on U.S. 40 near 100 West in Duchesne.

Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote said Pantos — who had methamphetamine in his truck at the time — later admitted smoking meth the day before.

Foote said the man’s judgment was obviously impaired by the drug. Three other cars stopped for the girl and her older friend as they crossed the road, but Pantos did not, Foote said.

The Utah Highway Patrol said the girl was thrown about 40 feet into the air when Pantos’ Chevy Colorado pickup truck hit her. She was flown in critical condition to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

Foote said the victim is recovering, but is "still going through therapy and things of that nature."

Pantos was initially charged with possession of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a second-degree felony. Misdemeanor counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license were dismissed.

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