Police reports detail vehicle-bicycle collision that leaves man on life support

PRESTON — A 25-year-old man has been on life support since a hit-and-run collision in Franklin County on Oct. 16.

Christopher James Ward, of Smithfield, Utah, has been charged with felonies for leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious injury and for destroying evidence, court documents show.

RELATED | Utah man arrested following hit-and-run accident involving cyclist

October 16

Idaho State Police were called to the scene of a hit-and-run collision on 4800 South in Franklin County around 9:30 p.m., according to a probable cause affidavit. Soldiers were informed that a man riding a red Schwinn bicycle had been hit by a vehicle and the vehicle had left the area.

Police reports show that a vehicle had left the road before hitting the cyclist.

“Evidence at the scene indicates that (the victim) was struck, thrown from his bike and came to rest in a corn field on the north side of the road,” the reports said.

Troopers pieced together pieces of a vehicle they believed had been involved in the incident, determining the vehicle to be a 2015-2018 Volkswagen Jetta. ISP is asking for the public’s help in finding a car that matches the description and has front end damage.

October 17

The ISP was notified that a gray 2017 Jetta had been left at a collision repair center in Smithfield, Utah.

The soldiers joined officers from the Smithfield Police Department at the repair center, where they found the Jetta. In reports, responding officers noted that the Jetta suffered “severe damage” to the driver’s side, a shattered windshield and “heavy” damage to the front. Officers also noted a transfer of red paint to the apparent impact area that matched the color of the bike involved in the hit-and-run.

Officers discovered the Jetta was registered with Ward and obtained a warrant of seizure, taking the car away to gather evidence.

The repair center told officers the Jetta was left there the evening of October 16 – between 4:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Ward called the repair center the next day and informed the company that the Jetta had been involved in a collision. with a deer.

October 18

Detectives returned to the scene of the collision and determined that the Jetta would have left the scene using US Highway 91.

About six miles from the crash site, officers found a bicycle wheel and leg that they determined were involved in the crash. Police reports show the wheel of the bike had been dragged under a car before falling and being left near the road.

Officers obtained a search warrant to collect evidence from the seized Jetta in Utah.

While searching the car, officers found what they believed to be human soft tissue on the front driver’s side, blood and hair on the driver’s door, and hair on the windshield. Officers also found empty liquor bottles inside the car.

An officer spoke with Ward on the phone. He told the officer he hit a deer on October 15. When asked where the deer strike happened, Ward said it happened in Utah, but wasn’t sure of the specific location.

The officer noted in the reports that it was “clear” that Ward was not telling the truth during their discussion.

Other officers spoke with witnesses, who said Ward had been drinking while golfing early in the day on October 16. A witness told officers they saw Ward driving the Jetta on October 15, saying it was in “perfect condition.” A witness also told officers that Ward would not let anyone drive his car.

October 20

Officers obtained a search warrant to draw blood from the victim. Speaking with medical staff at the Utah hospital where the victim was being treated, officers learned the victim was on life support and had been on life support since the collision. Staff told officers the victim suffered “serious injuries and broken extremities”, had “very poor” reflexes and was suffering from “severe bleeding (into) the brain”.

Detectives spoke with a business near the intersection of 4800 South and Highway 91 and obtained surveillance footage from October 16.

In the footage, officers saw a car matching Ward’s Jetta traveling east on 4800 South “at high speed” just before 4:45 p.m. Damage was visible on the front driver’s side and undercarriage of the vehicle.

Officers and the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office determined there was sufficient evidence available to issue a warrant for Ward’s arrest.

He was arrested on October 26 by Smithfield police and taken to Cache County Jail.

Although Ward was charged with these crimes, that does not necessarily mean that he committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

If convicted, Ward faces up to 15 years in prison.

A preliminary hearing was canceled and Ward was bound to the district court on both counts. He was arraigned by District Judge Mitchell Brown on November 10.