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Dump-truck driver faces charges in crash death

Miguel Patino Hidalgo
Miguel Patino Hidalgo

OREM — For the first time in 15 years, Orem city prosecutors have filed a negligent homicide charge and will prosecute a 51-year-old man charged with crashing his dump truck into the car of a 61-year-old woman.

Miguel Patino Hidalgo of American Fork faces a class A misdemeanor for the death of Janet Louise Shorten, 61, on Sept. 25, when he ran a red light at 800 N. Main in Orem at 9 a.m.

"I don't remember us having another (negligent homicide case)," said Orem city prosecutor Robert Church, who has been with Orem for 11 years. He and other staff, who have been with the city longer, say they can't remember another charge like this being filed in the last 15 years, possibly even longer.

Police and prosecutors say Hidalgo displayed "willful and wanton disregard" when he ran the red light, his fully loaded dump truck smashing directly into the driver's seat.

Shorten was killed instantly, and her car and the dump truck skidded across the intersection and crashed into several other cars.

A 43-year-old driver in another car was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center with serious but not life-threatening injuries, said Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards.

The intersection was shut down for nearly an hour and a half and traffic was diverted as crews worked to clean up the site.

"Rather than issue a citation for running a stop light, we wanted to step back, do a complete and full investigation," Church said. "As we looked at all the evidence after the officer completed his investigation ... we felt he was displaying willful and wanton disregard."

That doesn't mean the accident was on purpose — it just means that Hidalgo was being careless, Church said.

After that investigation and the same day prosecutors filed charges, they issued a warrant for Hidalgo's arrest.

"That was based on the fact that he had loose ties to the area," Edwards said. "(Prosecutors) just want to make sure that he's here for prosecution."

Hidalgo was arrested Tuesday at his Provo work, Golden State Trucking, and booked into the Orem holding facility without incident. He has since bailed out on $2,500 cash-only bail and will appear in court on Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. for an arraignment.

Along with the class A misdemeanor of the negligent homicide, he also faces a class B misdemeanor of driving a vehicle without insurance.

The accident site, 800 North, has been under construction for months as it is in the midst of a widening project. It's possible the construction might have been a factor in the accident, Edwards said, although it's difficult to know for sure. Hidalgo allegedly admitted he had seen the light, which was red.

"It's a narrow road (right now)," he said. "People need to exercise greater care in those situations. Apparently he didn't."

Hidalgo doesn't yet have an attorney and is likely to have a public defender appointed for him by the court, Church said.

Attempts to reach Hidalgo were unsuccessful.

"My condolences go out to the (Shorten) family," Church said. "And I feel bad for Mr. Hidalgo and his family. It's unfortunate that he wasn't paying better attention."