Wrong-way I-80 driver arrested after hitting deputy head-on

Uinta County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jarrod Asay’s patrol pickup sits in a median along Interstate 80 after officials said a man driving a minivan with two children in it rammed the vehicle head on in Uinta County. (COURTESY PHOTO/Uinta County Sheriff’s Office)

EVANSTON — A tense and dangerous situation was resolved by Uinta County law enforcement without serious injury on Sunday, June 28, when an alleged intoxicated driver ran head-on into the vehicle of a Uinta County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

A press release from the sheriff’s office said an attempt-to-locate call from the Summit County (Utah) Sheriff’s Office came in Sunday evening on a blue minivan that had been reported traveling the wrong way on Interstate 80 near Park City, Utah. Shortly after the wrong-way driver report, a separate caller had reported a male subject in a blue minivan had fired a gun at a vehicle and was traveling eastbound on the interstate.

Uinta County Sheriff’s Office deputies reportedly searched for the vehicle, including on back roads coming into Uinta County, but were unable to locate it. However, at about 10:30 p.m. on Sunday night, dispatch received a report of a wrong-way driver on I-80 at about milepost 35, traveling west in the eastbound lane.

The press release states that a deputy was in the area and attempted to stop the vehicle near milepost 32; however, the vehicle only briefly came to a stop before accelerating directly toward the deputy’s vehicle and then veering through the median to the westbound lane.

At exit 24, the minivan reportedly exited the interstate, drove down the off-ramp and then turned around quickly and accelerated back up the off-ramp toward the deputy. That deputy, reportedly UCSO Deputy Jarrod Asay, put his vehicle in reverse and attempted to avoid the minivan, but it 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 suspected driver of the minivan, who exited his vehicle with two small children, holding one in each arm. The suspect, identified as Sacramento resident William Blattel, refused to stop and was considered armed.

After numerous commands to stop, Blattel, 49, reportedly threw a handgun at deputies on scene before being taken into custody. He was then transported to Evanston Regional Hospital for medical clearance.

The children were reportedly Blattel’s, ages 3 and 6, and were taken into protective custody. Blattel allegedly admitted to using marijuana and methamphetamine and was booked into the Uinta County Detention Center on charges of aggravated assault and battery, driving while under the influence, property destruction and attempting to elude police officers.

“This was an extremely dangerous situation that went on for several hours and across two states, endangering a number of people, Uinta County Sheriff Doug Matthews said. “It could have ended with someone being killed or seriously injured. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, and we can replace a patrol truck.”

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