SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah repossession agent was charged with manslaughter after prosecutors said he forced a mother from a road in her SUV during a reckless, high-speed pursuit while trying to take back the vehicle.
Defendant Kenneth Drew appeared in court Wednesday in Provo after being charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of 35-year-old Ashleigh Best, a mother of two who died after crashing into a tree.
Loni DeLand, an attorney for the 49-year-old Drew, declined comment.
Prosecutors say the crash occurred on May 17 in Pleasant Grove, south of Salt Lake City, when Drew went to Best's house around midnight after she fell behind on title loan payments.
Best's husband Brennen Best stepped between the tow truck and SUV, and the two men argued until Drew agreed to leave the SUV alone to allow the couple time to make a payment and return with proof, charging documents show.
A short time later, Best got in her SUV and drove away. Her husband told police he had instructed her to drive the SUV to her mother's house.
Drew later told police he was angry about the deception and sped after her in his tow truck with his girlfriend in the passenger's seat. A neighbor's security camera shows Drew trying to force Best against a curb as both cars accelerated.
Later in the chase, prosecutors say Drew drove alongside Best's SUV, grinding his rear right tire into her door. Going faster than 50 mph, Best jumped a curb and smashed into a tree. She died a short time later.
A phone listing for the Best family couldn't be found.
Drew told investigators he was just following Best to keep an eye on the SUV, charging documents show.
Investigators, however, say evidence, including pictures and GPS data from the tow truck, show Drew's story doesn't match what happened.
"He was chasing Mrs. Best recklessly and the inconsistencies in his account indicate that he was aware of wrongdoing and trying to mitigate his liability," prosecutors wrote in the charging documents.
Police say it's illegal for repo men to use force to reclaim vehicles.