Utah County Sheriff’s deputy charged with manslaughter after fatal collision with BYU student in 2021

BYU Student Killed in Provo Fatal Crash
Photo: Provo Police Department

PROVO, Utah, March 7, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — A Utah County Sheriff’s deputy has been charged with manslaughter in the death of a Brigham Young University student last year.

Richard Josephson was charged Monday afternoon with the second-degree felony in the death of the student, Joseph Spencer, who was driving out of a Provo Taco Bell parking lot when Josephson’s personal vehicle struck Spencer’s car on March 16, 2021.

The charge was announced by the Summit County Attorney’s Office, which is acting under special authority from the Utah County Attorney’s Office due to a potential conflict of interest.

The probable cause statement for Richardson, 52, says he was driving south in a black Toyota Tacoma on 900 East at about 433 North when he collided with a Toyota Avalon, killing the driver, now identified as Spencer. Richardson was driving 57.8 mph just seconds before the collision, and the posted speed limit is 25 mph, the statement says.

Richardson was on his way to a SWAT location at the time of the collision. After the accident, he exited his vehicle and rendered aid, but paramedics arrived and pronounced Spencer dead.

“As I was coming down here, I saw him start to pull out in front of me,” Richardson said at the scene, according to the probable cause statement. “I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t have tried to beat him.”

The Medical Examiner’s report lists Spencer’s immediate cause of death as blunt trauma of the head.

Richardson was suspended after the crash. Sheriff Mike Smith released the following statement to Gephardt Daily.

“Due to a pending law suit 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. This incident is a tragedy for all involved. Our hearts are broken for the loss and pain this accident has caused.”

Officials said Thursday that a Utah County Sheriff’s Office deputy en route to a SWAT incident Tuesday hit a vehicle driven by a 22-year-old Brigham Young University student, who died as a result of the crash. Photo: Provo Police Department

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