SALT LAKE CITY — Police on Monday arrested an 18-year-old man who they say was traveling at least 135 mph on a motorcycle.
The arrest in St. George comes just one week after troopers arrested a woman traveling 125 mph through Millard County, and continues an alarmingtrend since the beginning of summerof troopers finding more motorists traveling at excessive speeds.
The man told police he had just finished racing a vehicle on I-15 near St. George when he passed a Washington County sheriff’s deputy going over 100 mph, according to a police booking affidavit.
“I caught up to the bike ... and activated my emergency lights at speeds of 135 mph,” an officer wrote in the affidavit.
The motorcyclist kept speeding up, then slowing down, and didn’t pull over for another 7 miles, according to police. The man eventually pulled over, turned off his Suzuki GSK-S750 and threw his keys to the ground, the affidavit states.
He was arrested for investigation of failing to stop for police, reckless driving, exhibition driving and not having insurance.
Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Nick Street said troopers have seen a dramatic increase in 2020 in the number of drivers going over 100 mph.
Comparing the past three years from Jan. 1 through July 22, Street said 1,973 tickets were given out in 2018 for motorists going 100 mph or faster. In 2019, the number increased to 2,057.
This year, Street said 2,730 motorists were stopped going at least 100 mph from the beginning of the year through July 22 — nearly 700 more than the same time last year.
Other recent incidents involving excessive speeds include:
- On July 2, Sean Kerwyn Hillier, 36, of San Diego, was recorded going 135 mph on I-15 before causing a crash.
Hillier was sitting in his car on an on-ramp near Yuba Lake when a Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped to see if he needed help. The officer could smell marijuana from inside the vehicle and asked Hillier to step out of the car, according to charging documents.
Instead, police say Hillier sped away.
“The officer followed with lights and sirens and clocked the (driver) traveling at 135 mph in an 80 mph zone, passing over 20 vehicles and putting them at risk,” the charges state.
The chase ended when Hillier tried to avoid tire spikes being deployed by another trooper and hit another vehicle while still traveling 130 mph, according to court documents.
“Both vehicles then rolled several times,” the affidavit says.
Three people in the other vehicle suffered injuries not considered to be life-threatening. Inside Hillier’s car, investigators found “22 boxes of THC concentrate, two marijuana edibles, one bong, rolling papers, two containers holding a green leafy substance consistent with marijuana and a scale,” the charges state.
Hillier was charged in 4th District Court with drug possession with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony; failing to stop for police, a third-degree felony; three counts of DUI and reckless endangerment, class A misdemeanors; marijuana possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, and interfering with an arrest, all class B misdemeanors, and speeding.
He is scheduled to be back in court on Tuesday.
- Last week, a Lehi man was charged with causing a crash while racing. Police say both drivers were intoxicated while racing each other.
Joey Nicholas Tolstad, 20, was charged in 4th District Court with DUI, a class A misdemeanor; and engaging in a speed contest of exhibition driving, a class B misdemeanor.
On July 5, Tolstad was driving his friend’s Corvette in Saratoga Springs, with the car owner in the passenger seat, when he raced another vehicle on Redwood Road and reached speeds of 90 mph, according to a police affidavit.
A truck with a trailer pulled out in front of the Infiniti that Tolstad was racing, causing all three vehicles to collide, according to a search warrant affidavit.
“Several of the occupants of all the vehicles had minor injuries, including bumps and abrasions to the head, eyes, and upper body. None of the patients were transported,” the warrant says.
The driver of the Infiniti, Joshua Sherod, 20, of South Jordan, was also arrested for investigation of DUI and exhibition driving. As of Monday, formal charges had not been filed, according to court records.
Tolstad is scheduled to make an initial appearance in court on Oct. 13.
- A motorcyclist, 38, was arrested Saturday in Morgan County. He was formally charged Monday with exhibition driving and failing to stop for police.
According to a police affidavit, Weber County sheriff’s deputies saw a group of five to 10 motorcyclists going approximately 100 mph on state Route 39. Deputies did not chase the motorcycles, but later identified one of the men in a separate traffic stop, according to a police affidavit.
Street said troopers initially believed that the increase in excessive speeders was because fewer vehicles were on the freeway due to people staying home during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. But now that the freeways are nearly back to normal traffic, he said troopers aren’t quite sure what is driving the need for speed for so many.
Street noted that the number of high speed chases troopers have been involved in during 2020 is also up. From Jan. 1 to July 22, troopers have been involved in 110 chases, he said. Last year during the same time period, the UHP was involved in 55 — half as many.