Centerville man arrested after almost hitting residents unloading groceries, police say

A Centerville man who police say drove onto a sidewalk, nearly hitting two people unloading groceries, then crashed onto a mountainside where a small grass fire was started, was arrested Tuesday.

A Centerville man who police say drove onto a sidewalk, nearly hitting two people unloading groceries, then crashed onto a mountainside where a small grass fire was started, was arrested Tuesday. (Jay Hancock, KSL-TV)


2 photos

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

CENTERVILLE — A Centerville man was arrested Tuesday after police say he drove onto a sidewalk and nearly hit two people before crashing on a steep slope in the foothills, sparking a small brush fire.

The incident happened just across the street from a house where police say a man broke into the residence last month, threatened two elderly residents and then set the house on fire. But the incident from Tuesday and from July 21 "are completely unrelated," Centerville police said.

About 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, police say Benjamin Young Wight, 46, was driving on 1825 North near 300 East when he swerved into oncoming traffic and continued "up onto the sidewalk narrowly missing two homeowners, but plowing through the groceries that they were unloading from their vehicle," police said in a statement.

"I heard the engine of the vehicle rev and I just started seeing him speed and he just came straight at us," said Randi Stephens, who said she believes the driver intentionally tried to hit her. "I saw his face, he saw my face. I mean, there's face-to-face contact."

"The Acura continued through a mailbox, then sideswiped a parked truck," the police statement says. "The Acura then swerved to the right, crossing the roadway, crashing through an electrical box and coming to rest on the mountain side in the brush."

The car came to rest about 20 feet up the mountainside where the hot engine of the vehicle started a brush fire. Nearby homeowners and the first responding police officers used fire extinguishers to put out the flames.

Stephens said she worried that the driver was in danger, so she ran to help.

"I was trying to help. I was screaming, 'Are you going to get out of the car? The car's on fire!'" she said. But then she said the driver continued toward her.

"He continues. He starts to put it in reverse and as I'm screaming, 'You're going to kill me!' and I'm trying to get down the hill from behind him, because there's all the rocks and debris, he continues to reverse."

Wight later told police that he had stolen a can of compressed air and inhaled it just prior to the crash, according to a prepared statement from the department. He was arrested for investigation of DUI, abuse of a psycho-toxic chemical, reckless driving and attempting to leave the scene of an accident for allegedly trying to get out of his car and fleeing after he crashed.

Police say the investigation into Wight allegedly swerving at two homeowners was ongoing Wednesday.

Wight was convicted of violating a protective order in April, according to court records. In June, he was sentenced to 90 days of home confinement and placed on two years of probation. Part of the conditions of his probation were not to use drugs or alcohol.

Contributing: Debbie Worthen

Photos

Most recent Police & Courts stories

Related topics

Police & CourtsUtahDavis County
Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021 after many years of reporting for the Deseret News

SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast