Deputy charged with manslaughter in fatal car crash that killed BYU student

Police officers survey the scene of a car crash that killed a BYU student in Provo on March 16, 2021. The Utah County SWAT deputy involved in the crash was charged with manslaughter on March 7, 2022 according to court documents. (Gabrielle Shiozawa)

A Utah County SWAT deputy has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a fatal car crash that killed a BYU student last year, court documents say.

Joseph Richardson, 52, was heading southbound on 900 East around 433 North in Provo in his Toyota Tacoma on March 16, 2021 when he collided with 22-year-old Joseph Spencer’s Toyota Avalon, according to a probable cause statement filed on March 7 by the Summit County Attorney’s Office.

The Summit County Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case rather than the Utah County Attorney’s Office due to a potential conflict of interest.

Crash data showed Richardson’s Tacoma going 57.8 mph two seconds before the crash in a 35 mph speed limit zone according to court documents. Spencer was exiting the Taco Bell drive-through right before the collision, turning left onto 900 East to go north.

Richardson exited his vehicle and rendered aid to Spencer after the crash, but paramedics later arrived and pronounced him dead at the scene, the documents say. The cause of death was blunt trauma to the head.

When approached by an officer asking if he saw what happened, Richardson said he was the other driver according to the probable cause statement. “As I was coming down here I saw him start to pull out in front of me. I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t have tried to beat him,” Richardson told the officer according to the document.

Richardson was on his way to an incident in Pleasant Grove when the accident occurred, Utah County Sherriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon told The Daily Universe last year.

Manslaughter is a second-degree felony. No court date for Richardson’s appearance has been set.

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