EVANSTON — The man responsible for driving a rented minivan head-on into a Uinta County Sheriff’s Office deputy’s patrol car in June 2020 was sentenced to 10-14 years behind bars during a sentencing hearing in Third District Court last week.
William Blattel was sentenced pursuant to a plea agreement with the Uinta County Attorney’s Office through which Blattel pleaded no contest to interfering with a police officer, eluding, endangering children, reckless endangering and aggravated assault and battery.
The incident began on the evening of June 28, 2020, when local law enforcement officers received an attempt to locate call for a blue minivan that had been reported driving the wrong way on I-80 in the area of Park City, Utah. Shortly afterward, another call came in from someone reporting the driver of a blue minivan was shooting at people on the interstate. Although officers looked for the vehicle in question, there was no sight of the minivan until another call came in at about 10:30 p.m. reporting a blue minivan traveling the wrong direction on I-80 near milepost 35.
At that time UCSO Deputy Jarrod Asay was in the area and attempted to stop the minivan near milepost 32. However, according to court documents, Blattel only briefly stopped before accelerating directly toward Asay’s vehicle and then veering through the median to the opposite lane of traffic. Near exit 24, the minivan reportedly exited the interstate before turning around and again accelerating directly toward Asay’s vehicle. Although the deputy put his vehicle in reverse in an attempt to escape, the minivan crashed head-on into Asay’s vehicle, causing it to leave the roadway and roll.
Asay was not seriously injured and was able to exit his vehicle and confront the suspect, who had exited the minivan with two small children, one in each arm, later identified as Blattel’s 3 and 6-year-old children. Blattel refused to surrender and was considered armed and dangerous and eventually threw a handgun at deputies at the scene. He was then taken into custody while his children were taken into protective custody. Blattel reportedly admitted to using marijuana and methamphetamine at the time.
A press release issued by Uinta County Sheriff Doug Matthews at the time stated it was an extremely dangerous situation that went on for several hours across two states, endangering many people. Matthews reiterated that when he spoke during last week’s sentencing hearing, noting that Blattel’s own children were also endangered and that it was extremely fortunate nobody was seriously injured or killed. Matthews said an investigation revealed Blattel’s minivan was traveling at approximately 60 miles per hour when it crashed into Asay’s patrol vehicle, which was traveling at about 33 miles per hour in reverse.
During sentencing, Judge Joseph Bluemel stated he would accept the terms of the plea agreement and said one of the primary considerations in this case was to ensure Blattel was punished and was separated from society. He also told Blattel he was fortunate the incident occurred in Uinta County where quality law enforcement officers were able to resolve the situation without shooting Blattel.
Blattel was sentenced to 8-10 years for interfering with a police officer, 8-10 years for aggravated assault and battery and 4-5 years for eluding, all to run concurrently. He was sentenced to 2-4 years for endangering children and one year for reckless endangering, also to run concurrently but consecutive to the sentence for the other three counts, for a total of 10-14 years behind bars. However, Blattel is also facing federal charges from the incident and the Uinta County sentence will run consecutive to any federal sentence.
Blattel received credit for 206 days in custody at the Uinta County Jail. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $5,000 to Uinta County for the deductible for the destroyed patrol vehicle, $6,830.21 to Uinta County to buy back the sick leave Asay had to use in addition to Worker’s Compensation benefits to ensure he received full paychecks during his approximately six-month absence from work, and about $16,500 to Enterprise Rental Car for the loss of the rented minivan.