CEDAR CITY — A driver was arrested following a single-vehicle crash and fire on Old Highway 91 north of Cedar City Monday afternoon.

Booking photo of Demetrice Denegal, 35, Iron County Jail, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 24, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Iron County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News / Cedar City News

The somewhat bizarre incident was reported shortly before 3:30 p.m. and involved a silver Chevrolet passenger car driven by a 35-year-old man.

Iron County Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser said the driver was heading north on Old Highway 91 when the car went off the left side of the road and crashed.

“The driver of the vehicle at some point exited the car alongside the road, and the vehicle caught on fire,” Schlosser said, adding that the man was found lying in the middle of the road when rescuers arrived and reportedly told them he had been ejected from the car.

A brisk wind spread the flames from the weeds along the roadside and into an adjacent field toward nearby homes. However, firefighters were able to quickly bring the blaze under control.

Traffic along Old Highway 91, which runs as a frontage road alongside Interstate 15, was impacted for more than an hour while responders worked to clear the scene.

Meanwhile, Iron County Sheriff’s deputies noticed the driver’s “erratic” behavior, according to a probable cause statement filed Tuesday in support of the man’s arrest.

“I checked the subject for weapons and found two glass pipes consistent with meth use in his front pockets,” the investigating deputy wrote in the affidavit, which described the driver as having excited speech and erratic arm movements.

Scene of a single-vehicle crash and fire on Old Highway 91 north of Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 23, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“I moved him back to the ambulance to get him checked on, and in so doing, the driver attempted to bite my hand,” the deputy’s statement added.

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After being transported to the hospital, the man continued to be noncompliant and “passive-aggressive” in his behavior, the statement said. However, he did eventually receive medical clearance and was subsequently taken to Iron County Jail, where he reportedly assaulted four other officers while in custody. He was eventually processed and formally booked on Tuesday.

Deputies said the man, identified in charging documents as Demetrice Denegal, is from out of state with no known ties to Utah and no criminal record in Utah. He was reportedly traveling from the eastern United States and heading to the West Coast when the incident occurred.

Denegal, who has not yet made an initial court appearance, remains in custody at the jail on suspicion of multiple charges, including five counts of assault by a prisoner, a third-degree felony, along with various misdemeanor counts, including drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to remain at the scene of an accident, driving without valid insurance and obstruction of justice. He was also cited for the infractions of improper lane travel and driving on an expired registration.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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