A 74-year-old man who charged through a road block toward his Rockport home as wildfires raged was sentenced Monday to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service.
Robert Weiner pleaded guilty in 3rd District Court to a misdemeanor count for failing to stop at the command of police a crime for which he could have received up to one year in jail. A judge also ordered Weiner to pay fines of $2,500.
Weiner, a resident of the Promontory neighborhood, was originally charged with a third-degree felony for which he could have received up to 5 years in prison. That charge was lessened and a second misdemeanor charge was dropped in his plea agreement with prosecutors.
Aug. 14, Summit County Sheriff's Sgt. Ken Jones was stationed at the intersection of Promontory Ranch Road and Ranch Club Trail when Weiner drove his white convertible over traffic cones marking the roadblock.
Jones, who was assigned to deny entry to the neighborhood out of concern for the Rockport 5 Fire, chased Weiner in his patrol car lights on, siren blaring.
When he finally caught Weiner, the septuagenarian was pulling into the garage of his home. Jones asked Weiner if he had seen his lights and hear the siren. Weiner said he had.
According to officials on scene, it wasn't the first time Weiner had tried to get back into his evacuated neighborhood.
The previous night, Weiner had been stopped by another sergeant, who gave him a warning for trying to drive around a barricade.
At that time, the fire, ignited by a lightning strike near Rockport State Park, had destroyed 14 homes, 20 outbuildings and several vehicles. It would go on to rage for several more days and leave more than 70,000 acres of Utah rangeland, forests and high desert grasses smouldering.
The flames, fanned by erratic winds, reached as high as 80 feet, and at times the fire traveled up to 100-200 feet per minute.
The evacuation order affected about 250 homes spanning the Rockport Estates, Bridgehollow and Promontory subdivision, including Weiner's.
Sheriff's deputies had been escorting people to their homes to retrieve medication and other supplies on a case-by-case basis, but told residents that once they left the area, they were not allowed to return unaccompanied.