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SALT LAKE CITY — After more than two years, criminal charges were filed Monday in connection with a fiery crash involving a Tesla that police say was going more than three times the posted speed limit on North Temple in Salt Lake City, resulting in the deaths of two people.
Lincoln Richard Bywater, 29, of Draper, is now charged in 3rd District Court with two counts of manslaughter, a second-degree felony; reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor; and three driving infractions including speeding, not wearing a seat belt and failing to obey a traffic control device.
On Jan. 5, 2020, a Tesla traveling at an extremely high rate of speed on North Temple ran a red light at 900 West and crashed into a Nissan Sentra, according to charging documents. Salt Lake police say after the collision, the Tesla's combustible battery began exploding on scene.
Data collected from the Tesla showed the car was at one point traveling 100 mph before the crash and was going approximately 89 mph at the time of impact, the charges state. The speed limit on North Temple in that area is 30 mph.
Using surveillance footage from TRAX stations and local businesses, police were able to track the Tesla to the Grand America Hotel, where video showed Bywater getting into the driver's seat and another man into the passenger's seat, according to the charges.
Both men and the woman in the Nissan were taken to local hospitals in critical conditions. Sarina Grace Astorga, 50, died at a hospital days later on Jan. 9 due to her injuries. Joseph Lucero, 35, was released from the hospital five days after the crash, but died at his home on Jan. 18, 2020, from injuries sustained in the collision, the charges state.
Bywater was determined to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.20%, or four times the legal limit, police said.
Police determined through surveillance video that Bywater was the driver and Lucero the passenger, according to charging documents.
Earlier this month, however, Bywater filed a lawsuit against Tesla and claimed he was the passenger in the Tesla.
"As the Tesla vehicle drove west approaching the intersection of 900 W. North Temple, the vehicle suddenly accelerated," the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, Bywater remained in the hospital for more than a year and suffered "permanent impairment and injury," as well as disfigurement, emotional distress and mental anguish.