Driver admits killing Vernal teen in texting and driving crash
Geoff Liesik, Deseret News
VERNAL — A Uintah County man who struck and killed a Vernal teen while texting and driving has pleaded guilty to a felony, and settled a wrongful-death lawsuit with the boy's parents.
Jeffery Lloyd Bascom was charged in 8th District Court with automobile homicide, a second-degree felony. He pleaded guilty Thursday to a reduced charge of automobile homicide, a third-degree felony.
Uintah County prosecutor Mike Drechsel said the decision to offer a plea deal was made after determining that Bascom's choice to text and drive in this case amounted to negligence, but not criminal negligence.
The family of Thomas Lavelle "Tommy" Clark was OK with the agreement, Drechsel said.
Bascom, 29, hit Clark from behind on Sept. 2 as the 15-year-old and a friend walked along the shoulder of 500 West near 1200 South about 9 p.m. The crash threw Clark about 40 feet through the air. He landed next to a barbed-wire fence that separates a cow pasture from a roadside ditch.
The teen died the following day at Primary Children's Medical Center. His friend escaped injury.
Then, in April, while Bascom was awaiting trial in the automobile homicide case, a Uintah County sheriff's sergeant pulled him over after noticing Bascom's pickup truck had wide tires but no mudflaps, according to court records. The sergeant said he spotted two guns in the vehicle, which Bascom could not possess because of the pending felony charge against him.
A sheriff's K-9 also found a small nylon pouch in the truck that had two pipes inside and small amount of a green leafy substance later identified as Spice, court records state.
Bascom pleaded guilty Thursday to possession of a controlled substance, a class B misdemeanor, in connection with his April arrest. A weapons charge and drug paraphernalia charge were both dismissed in exchange for his plea.
Bascom is scheduled to be sentenced July 1 for the automobile homicide and drug possession charges. He faces up to five years in prison in the automobile homicide case, and up to six months in jail in the drug possession case.
In addition to the criminal cases, Bascom was also being sued by Clark's parents for wrongful death. The lawsuit was dismissed May 2, after attorneys for both sides informed the court that the case had been settled. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
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