Utah County deputy charged in connection with 2021 crash that killed BYU student

Mar 7, 2022, 5:39 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2023, 4:43 pm

Joseph Spenser was killed in the crash on March 16, 2021.(Used by permission Spencer Family)...

Joseph Spenser was killed in the crash on March 16, 2021.(Used by permission Spencer Family)

(Used by permission Spencer Family)

PROVO, Utah – The Summit County Attorney’s Office filed one charge of manslaughter, a second-degree felony, against a Utah County Sheriff deputy who was involved in a crash last year that killed a 22-year-old BYU student. 

A charging document said, “Joseph Richardson was driving southbound in his black Toyota Tacoma on 900 East around 433 North in Provo when he collided with a Toyota Avalon and killed J.S. (Joseph Spencer), the driver of the other vehicle.” 

Richarson was off duty and was responding to a SWAT call in his personal truck.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office confirmed after the crash that Richardson was a member of the Utah County Metro SWAT team.

The document said investigators accessed the crash data from Richardson’s truck.

“…the Tacoma’s speed was 56.5 mph 4.7 seconds prior to the crash. The data then shows that the Tacoma’s speed rose to 57.8 mph 2.2 seconds prior to the crash,” the document said. “The data then shows deceleration began at 1.7 seconds prior to the crash and decreased from 57.2 mph to 37.9 mph at the moment that the crash occurred.”

Police: Sheriff’s deputy struck, killed student on way to SWAT standoff

The speed limit on the road is 35 mph.

The charging document said witnesses indicated that Richardson’s truck was traveling at a high rate of speed — faster than the posted speed limit.

Investigators looked at surveillance video of the crash from three businesses.

According to the document, the event recorder from Richardson’s truck showed he pressed his brake pedal and swerved to the left just before he collided with Spencer’s car.

Richardson got out of his truck to render aid to Spencer, according to the document. When paramedics arrived, they pronounced Spencer dead. He suffered blunt trauma to the head.

An officer on the scene asked Richardson what happened. The document said, “Richardson pointed to his truck and stated that he was the other driver.”

Richardson explained he was on his way to a SWAT call.

“As I was coming down here, I saw him start to pull out in front of me,” Richardson told police. “I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t have tried to beat him.”

The analysis of the event recorder on Richardson’s truck supported what he told police.

Even though the crash happened in Utah County, the Summit County Attorney’s Office said it was acting under special authority from the Utah County Attorney’s Office due to a potential conflict of interest.

Richardson was placed on paid administrative leave following the crash.

“Due to a pending lawsuit we are not able to say much about this accident. Our deputy, who has been with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years, has been on leave pending the outcome of this investigation since the accident occurred,” said a statement released Monday from Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith. “This incident is a tragedy for all involved. Our hearts are broken for the loss and pain this accident has caused.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Stop For Students

A street sign of 2300 E. Canyon Road. On Saturday, two teen girls where hospitalized after attempti...

Brianna Chavez

Plans in place to add traffic signal to Spanish Fork intersection where two girls were hit

UDOT and Spanish Fork officials are working on getting a traffic signal at the intersection where two girls were critically injured while crossing the street.

1 month ago

(KSL TV)...

Karah Brackin

UDOT is stressing work zone safety, especially near schools

As road construction ramps up around the state, construction on 5600 South in Roy will directly impact elementary school students heading to and from school.

2 months ago

police at Mary Jackson Elementary...

Cary Schwanitz, Eliza Pace, and Daniel Woodruff, KSL TV

Child injured in hit-and-run crash outside Salt Lake City elementary school

An 8-year-old child was injured in a hit-and-run crash across the street from Mary Jackson Elementary School Wednesday afternoon, according to the Salt Lake City Police Department.

3 months ago

Joey Skelton, a school bus driver for a Utah school is receiving a thank you poster and an award fo...

Emma Benson

School bus driver hailed as hero for saving student lives after car ignored bus stop arm

A Jordan School District bus driver is being praised after he prevented a possible tragedy from happening to students. 

4 months ago

A new bill introduced in the legislature would increase fines for speeding in school crossings from...

Daniel Woodruff

Lawmaker proposes bigger fines for speeding in Utah school zones

A Utah lawmaker is proposing substantially higher fines for speeding in a school zone.

5 months ago

A cyclist watches traffic before crossing 400 East at 200 South in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March...

Logan Stefanich,

Salt Lake City hoping to make streets safer for K-12 students through nearly $1M grant

The federal government has awarded $953,600 to Salt Lake City to help make its streets safer — particularly for K-12 students.

6 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Utah County deputy charged in connection with 2021 crash that killed BYU student