Drugged driver sentenced to seven years in DUI crash case

Contributed Photo/Courtesy DPS: The man who caused this crash, Anthony Daniel Bejarano, was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison. 

By Jon Johnson


SAFFORD – A drugged driver who caused severe injury to another driver during a February 2017 crash will spend the next several years in prison.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Anthony Daniel Bejarano

Anthony Daniel Bejarano, 27, was sentenced Tuesday to an aggravated term of seven years in prison by Graham County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem D. Corey Sanders on the charge of aggravated assault. Bejarano was also given probation on charges of DUI and possession of drug paraphernalia. The probation term will begin upon his release from the Arizona Department of Corrections.

“So many times people forget that the consequences of DUI are often serious injury,” said Graham County Chief Deputy County Attorney L. Scott Bennett in a press release. “Driving with drugs in your system is not only illegal, it is extremely dangerous.”

The charges stem from a collision Feb. 8, 2017, that sent three people to hospitals. According to a report by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), Bejarano was southbound on Montiereth Road in a red, 2007 Chrysler 300 at about 3:50 p.m. when he struck the driver’s side of a white, 2003 Mitsubishi Montero driven by Alex Lopez, who was eastbound on U.S. Highway 70.

The collision spun the Montero counterclockwise and it began to roll over, finally resting on its top in the westbound lane.

Lopez was ejected from the vehicle and suffered numerous injuries, including a skull fracture, brain bleed, cervical spine fracture, ear laceration and other cuts. Lopez was flown from the scene by AirEvac-21 to Banner-University Medical Center Tucson.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy DPS: The driver of this SUV was severely injured when struck by a car driven by Anthony Daniel Bejarano, who was driving under the influence of drugs at the time.

Lopez had two passengers in the SUV, Kari Kelly, then 25, and a then17-year-old juvenile. Both passengers were transported by ground ambulance to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center, where they were treated for multiple lacerations and released.

Bejarano and his passenger, Gordon Pike, then 37, were not injured. Officers noted Bejarano appeared under the influence at the scene and he was found to be in possession of dab – a more potent, concentrated form of marijuana – and a gun. He was then booked on three charges of aggravated assault, possession of a narcotic drug, and misconduct involving weapons. Later, additional charges of DUI-drug and possession of drug paraphernalia were added. A blood test of Bejarano showed the presence of a metabolite of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the active “high” ingredient in marijuana – amphetamine, and methamphetamine.

Bejarano took a plea agreement April 23 and agreed to plead guilty to aggravated assault, DUI-drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia with the caveat his other charges would be dropped. After a lengthy, passionate plea from Lopez during sentencing, Judge Sanders felt the aggravated term of seven years in prison was appropriate.

“I hope that when people see that we take this type of crime seriously they may think twice about endangering the public by getting behind the wheel when they are high,” Bennett said. “I am extremely pleased that the judge gave an aggravated sentence in this case. The victim will have to suffer the consequences for years to come, and it is appropriate that the defendant’s life will be seriously impacted by his decision to get high and drive.”