A man who recently moved to Utah is facing an auto homicide charge, after he reportedly collided with another vehicle while driving drunk, killing the other driver.
Joseph Richard Gomez, 31, has been charged in 4th District Court with automobile homicide, a second-degree felony; driving under the influence, a third-degree felony; having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and driving on a suspended license, Class C misdemeanors; and driving with an expired registration and failure to stay in a lane, traffic infractions.
The deadly collision happened Saturday near milepost 145 on Interstate 15, near Kanosh in Millard County. According to the Utah Highway Patrol, multiple witnesses said the driver of a white Nissan Maxima, identified as Gomez, had been driving erratically — changing speeds from 30-40 mph to an estimated 100 mph, and weaving through traffic, almost hitting several other vehicles.
According to witnesses, the Nissan moved to pass a blue pickup truck when it suddenly veered and struck the truck’s right, rear corner, causing it to crash and roll. The driver of the pickup, whose name has not been released, had to be extracted from the wreckage and revived. He was taken to a hospital, where he died on Tuesday. A passenger in the pickup suffered minor injuries.
According to a UHP officer, he smelled alcohol on Gomez’s breath, and Gomez “seemed lethargic and slow to respond to questions.” The officer wrote in a probable cause statement that Gomez told him the pickup “suddenly spun out in front of him,” and he denied he collided with it.
There was “fresh damage” to the left front of the Nissan, the office wrote, and Gomez “seemed to suggest that he may have struck them when they spun out in front of him.”
Gomez, who recently moved to Enoch from Arizona, failed a field sobriety test, according to police. An open, half-empty can of alcohol was found in his car, along with at least one empty can and several full cans.
A Breathalyzer test showed a blood alcohol level or .223, almost four-and-a-half times Utah’s legal limit of .05. The results of a blood test are pending.
Gomez was booked into the Millard County Jail, where he is being held without bail.
The search for a border collie who was in the pickup truck and ran away after it crashed ended sadly, according to the Millar County Sheriff’s Office. The pet was found dead.