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Past charges could enhance penalties against man suspected of DUI on Lake Powell

(Kane County)

LAKE POWELL – Prosecutors are getting their case ready against the man accused of the DUI that led to the death of an 18 year old on Lake Powell.  This isn’t the first time he’s been accused of being impaired behind the wheel.

Police have reportedly finished their investigation into the crash that took the life of Jayla Hiatt, although, it could take a few days for that report to be handed to the Kane County Attorney’s Office.  However, prosecutor Rob Van Dyke says officers are already recommending Triston Harrison be charged with automobile homicide.

“Boats and any watercraft fall under the definition of the automobile homicide statute,” Van Dyke says.

Normally, this kind of crime is a third-degree felony, but, Van Dyke says there are a few things that could bump it up to second-degree.  For instance, he says, “You can also be found guilty of a second degree felony if your mental state is with criminal negligence, as opposed to just simple negligence.”

According to the probable cause statement, “Mr. Harrison, as the operator of the boat, was responsible for the safety of all individuals on board.  He was negligent in operation by failing to have a duty of care for the passengers on board the vessel.  Mr. Harrison was aware of, but, consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk to the passengers on the watercraft.”

Plus, Harrison’s criminal history could work against him.  He’s currently facing DUI charges from West Valley from an incident that happened less than a month ago.

“[Automobile homicide] can be enhanced to a second degree felony if you have a prior DUI,” Van Dyke says, adding, “That’s definitely what I’m going to be considering when I take a look at the charges.”

Investigators say there were eight people on the boat when Harrison hit a rock and caused the boat to beach.