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FBI investigating fatal crash on Ute reservation

FBI investigating fatal crash on Ute reservation

(Utah Highway Patrol)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Federal agents have secured a search warrant for a sport-utility vehicle that was involved in an April crash on the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation that killed one man and injured five others.

Investigators want to recover any data from the SUV's internal computer system that might provide them with additional forensic evidence about the crash, according to a sworn statement filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by FBI agent Dustin Grant.

Authorities also want to collect evidence of possible alcohol or drug use by those who were in the vehicle as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the death of Marshall Penning Jack, court records show.

Penning Jack, 29, was riding in an Audi SUV when the driver tried to evade a Bureau of Indian Affairs police officer on April 5 near Fort Duchesne, Grant wrote. The officer was trying to stop the Audi after getting a report that its driver had nearly crashed into another vehicle, according to Grant's statement.

Photo: Utah Highway Patrol
Photo: Utah Highway Patrol

"The Audi failed to negotiate the turn (at U.S. 40 and 8700 East), possibly due to the high rate of speed, and drove off the northern edge of Highway 40," the agent wrote.

The SUV rolled several times, coming to rest on its side about 50 feet below the roadway, Grant wrote.

"Some of the vehicle's occupants had been thrown from the vehicle during the rollover," the agent wrote. "One person was pinned under the vehicle, and two people had fled by foot westbound through a field."

The Bureau of Indian Affairs officer who had been pursuing the SUV said he smelled "flavored alcoholic beverages" and the odor of burnt marijuana when he reached the crash. There were also a number of beer bottles on the ground, according to Grant's statement.

Witnesses directed officers to a culvert under a nearby road where they found the two men who had run from the wrecked SUV, the FBI agent wrote. The same witnesses told police that one of those men, 18-year-old Damien Santio, was driving the Audi when it crashed.

"Santio later admitted, post-Miranda, to being the driver of the Audi, fleeing from police, being drunk and smoking marijuana the night before," Grant wrote.

Santio later admitted, post-Miranda, to being the driver of the Audi, fleeing from police, being drunk and smoking marijuana the night before.

–FBI agent Dustin Grant

Penning Jack was taken to Uintah Basin Medical Center in Roosevelt, where he died from his injuries. Santio was taken to Ashley Regional Medical Center with serious injuries, and one of his passengers was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition, according to Grant.

The three remaining passengers were also hospitalized for their injuries, the agent wrote.

The Audi was initially impounded by the towing company that was called to pick it up. It later moved to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Police Department in Fort Duchesne, where it remains in evidence. The tow truck driver told investigators he found a drug pipe, a .40-caliber handgun and at least 36 bottles of beer near the SUV, Grant wrote.

Santio was arrested after his release from the hospital and booked into the Duchesne County Jail, where he is being held on unspecified charges that are filed in Ute Tribal Court.

In his sworn statement, Grant said Santio could potentially face federal charges of involuntary manslaughter while within Indian Country and DUI, depending on the outcome of the FBI's investigation.


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