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Driver in 2020 double-fatal crash charged 2 years later; Arrested after missing court

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Posted at 8:07 PM, May 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-08 00:27:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A driver who allegedly killed two people in a crash while driving drunk in January 2020 has been charged with manslaughter and is now in jail after police found active warrants in his name during a separate incident.

On Jan. 5, 2020, police said 29-year-old Lincoln Richard Bywater ran a red light while driving a Tesla Model S westbound on North Temple and crashed into a Nissan Sentra that was headed north on 900 West.

Bywater, his passenger, and the driver of the Nissan were all taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The Nissan driver, later identified as 50-year-old Sarina Astorga, died from her injuries four days later. She was a mother of three and also had 12 grandchildren, her family said.

The passenger in the Tesla, identified in court records only as "J. Lucero," was released from the hospital five days after the crash — but police said he died from his injuries at his home on Jan. 18, 2020.

Over two years after the crash, on Jan. 24 of this year, Bywater was charged with two felony counts of manslaughter, one misdemeanor count of reckless driving, and three driving infractions.

Charging documents state that Bywater had a blood-alcohol level of .20 percent — four times the legal limit to drive. However, he has not been charged with driving under the influence.

Investigators say they used the Tesla's own data to determine that Bywater was driving at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour before the crash, and 89 mph when he hit Astorga's car. The data also showed that the Tesla was coming from the Grand America Hotel, and neither Bywater nor Lucero were wearing seatbelts.

It was not clear why he was charged so long after the accident and the deaths of Astorga and Lucero.

Court documents show that he was not arrested at the time he was charged, but a summons was issued for him to appear in court on Feb. 28. After he did not show up, a warrant was issued for his arrest with bail set at $25,000 — but he was still not arrested until Friday when he was allegedly found in possession of marijuana.

The arrest report says Bywater was arrested after a witness reported to Utah Transit Authority Police that two people were smoking marijuana on a FrontRunner platform. The arresting officer said Bywater and another man were found with marijuana and various controlled prescription drugs in their possession. Police discovered Bywater's warrants for the manslaughter charges and took him into custody. He now also faces three misdemeanor drug-related charges and one count of giving false personal information to a police officer.

Bywater, a resident of Draper, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on $500 bail for the alleged drug-related offenses, although court documents as of Saturday showed that his warrant with bail at $25,000 was still active for the manslaughter charges.