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Plea in abeyance settles case in which crash killed 2 brothers

DUCHESNE — The criminal case against a Vernal man charged with negligent homicide in the accidental roadway deaths of two brothers is resolved, but a possible civil suit is pending.

Brandon Lane, 27, entered a plea in abeyance to two class A misdemeanor charges of negligent homicide and two class C misdemeanor counts for improper passing.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, if Lane obeys all laws, successfully completes 40 hours of community service and an eight-hour course on driving awareness, in one year the criminal charges against him will be expunged from his record.

Eighth District Judge John Anderson also ordered Lane to pay $1,500 in restitution. Duchesne County Attorney Karen Allen told the court the victims' families are considering taking civil action against Lane and "would not like the $1,500 fee at this point."

Allen, along with Duchesne County Undersheriff Wally Hendricks and Duchesne County victim's advocate Tracy Hansen, went to Arvada, Colo., recently to meet with the families of the two men who died in the Feb. 17, midmorning collision on SR-40 near the Tabiona rest stop.

Allen said she wanted the families of the victims to know how she came to her decision not to prosecute Lane.

"The family is not happy, but it wasn't murder, it was an accident. Every highway patrolman, every accident reconstructionist that we had felt that it was an accident," said Allen. "Not one person involved, except the (victims') family, felt there was any criminal intent there are all."

Lane was westbound in his 2001 Ford F-250 pickup truck when he tried to pass a semi-truck and struck an eastbound 1995 Jeep Cherokee driven by Dan Hay, 61, Longmont. Hay and Lane both tried to avoid the collision by driving off the road into the same barrow pit, where they collided.

Hay and his brother, John Hay, 60, Arvada, Colo., who was riding in the front seat of the Jeep, were pronounced dead at the scene. Their wives were in the backseat and sustained critical injuries. One of the women is now in a wheelchair. Lane and his wife also suffered multiple injuries.

"It's just a really, really tragic accident. Both husbands are dead, and one of the wives' (hospital) bills are already over $1 million," said Allen.

Both of the Hay brothers had recently retired and the two couples were returning home to Colorado from a trip when the accident occurred on a Saturday morning about 20 miles west of Duchesne.

Allen said she expects the Hay families to watch Lane "very carefully," during the 12 months he completes his plea deal to make certain he lives up to his end of the bargain. Lane has no previous criminal record, said Allen.

"This won't be something where if this kid violates he will get away with anything; he would be in very serious trouble," she said.