RAWLINS, Wyoming (ABC4) — A Utah man is facing 11 charges after allegedly causing a multi-car wreck on Interstate 80 that led to the deaths of five Arkansas students on Sunday, Jan. 22.
Of the five victims, two are current students and three are former students from Sylvan Hills High School located in Sherwood, Arkansas.
According to Casper Star-Tribune, Arthur Andrew Nelson, 57, of West Jordan is facing 11 charges, including five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.
On Sunday, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers were alerted to a driver, later identified as Nelson, driving the wrong way on I-80 east of Rawlins, Wyo., around 7 p.m. and causing multiple car crashes.
Investigation revealed that Nelson’s Dodge Ram 3500 was headed east on westbound I-80 and collided with a commercial truck and passenger car. The driver of a second commercial truck drove into the median to avoid the collision, went into the eastbound lanes and hit a Ford F-150 head-on.
The second commercial truck and the Ford immediately went up in flames. All five students in the Ford truck were killed. Others were transported to local hospitals with critical injuries.
According to the affidavit obtained by KATV, Nelson failed a field sobriety test and admitted to using methamphetamine the previous day.
Nelson appeared at the Wyoming Carbon County Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon for the first time, KATV said. Deputy County Attorney Mark Nugent revealed during the proceeding that Nelson’s driver’s license was suspended at the time of the crash because of a prior DUI conviction.
A judge raised his bond from $75,000 to $500,000, citing the “severe aggravating circumstances” of the case and Nelson being considered a danger to society and a flight risk.
The Casper Star-Tribune said Nelson had a warrant issued for him out of Uintah County, Utah, in December 2022 for driving with no valid license, speeding and failing to stay in one lane.
The newspaper also found that before moving to West Jordan, Nelson reportedly served many years in Tennessee prison for a series of criminal offenses, including a burglary offense and a statutory rape offense.
He is scheduled to return to court at 3: 30 p.m. on Feb. 1 for a preliminary hearing.