Juan Lopez | Bonneville County Jail
IDAHO FALLS – A man has been charged with vehicular manslaughter five months after a crash that killed an 85-year-old man.
Juan Lopez, 36, has been charged with one count of felony vehicular manslaughter.
On Oct. 5, around 10:30 a.m., Lopez and a female passenger were driving in a red 2015 Nissan Altima, going east on East Sunnyside Road in Idaho Falls. According to the police report, Lopez fell asleep, and the car drifted past a left turn lane.
RELATED | 85-year-old man dies after crash on Sunnyside Road in Idaho Falls
The Nissan struck head-on with a white 1994 Chevrolet C/K1500 driving west on East Sunnyside Road.
The victim, identified as 85-year-old Larry Beauchat of Idaho Falls, reportedly had severe trauma to his head. He was transported to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and succumbed to his injuries at around noon.
Police reports detail the perspective of a person who witnessed the crash. The witness told officers that the Nissan drove in front of the Chevrolet, and then there was screaming.
The scene of the crash in October 2022 | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com
The witness realized it was coming from a woman, the passenger in the Nissan, lying on the floor of the car with a tire on top of her. Paramedics say nobody in the Nissan was wearing a seatbelt.
Officers later were able to determine that the tire came from inside the car because all four tires were still on the Nissan.
Lopez and the woman were both transported to EIRMC and were kept for observation due to lacerated livers, according to court documents.
The woman had surgery to repair her injuries, and when doctors were moving her from the gurney to the hospital bed, 540 fentanyl pills reportedly fell out of her pocket.
According to police reports, an empty syringe was also found after it fell out of Lopez’s pocket.
Officers say they soon discovered the Nissan had been reported stolen out of Chubbuck. The vehicle was then towed to Hendrickson’s towing for storage and further investigation.
When interviewed by officers, Lopez reportedly had a “palm size of hair missing from his forehead,” which was stuck in the windshield of the vehicle.
He told the officers that the woman had picked him up from his house, and they were on their way to Fort Hall. He did not remember the crash but admitted to drinking two beers and using methamphetamine that day.
He denied any knowledge of fentanyl in the car or that his car had previously been reported stolen.
Officers did not speak to the woman at first, as she was reportedly “not alert enough to talk to.”
On Oct. 6, officers contacted the Chubbuck Police Department to find the owner of the Nissan. They found the owner and discovered it had been consigned to an auto sales store in Chubbuck in an attempt to get it sold.
Detectives in Chubbuck told Idaho Falls Police that the woman had taken the car for a test drive on Aug. 25, and later in the day, she returned to steal it. They contacted the owner of the car, who gave them permission to search it.
Inside the car, officers reportedly found a Motorola phone, empty suboxone packets, a glass Coke bottle that had been turned into a bong, a lockbox, a black bag, $14 in cash, and an iPhone.
Officers obtained a search warrant for the bags, laptop, lockbox, and phones. Inside the lockbox, they reportedly found four grams of methamphetamine and five glass pipes with methamphetamine residue.
The backpack contained a single one-dollar bill.
They also found an Idaho license plate, a backpack, an HP laptop, a Visa card with the woman’s name, and an Idaho Central debit card.
Officers were eventually able to talk to the woman, who said she did not remember the accident, but that the property in the vehicle belonged to her.
The woman has not been charged in connection to this incident, and it is unclear if she will be.
Lopez is expected to appear in court on March 15 for a preliminary hearing. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
The post Man charged with vehicular manslaughter after crash kills 85-year-old man appeared first on East Idaho News.
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