Veyo ATV driver charged with homicide

ST. GEORGE — The man involved in an ATV-dirt bike crash that resulted in the death of a teen from Santa Clara has been charged by the Washington County Attorney with a simple negligence charge of automobile homicide, a third-degree felony.

Makay Thomas Stephens, 27, from Brookside, was taken to jail Sunday, after the ATV Stephens was driving hit the back of a dirt bike driven by Austin Brett McElyea, 17 of Santa Clara. McElyea had stopped in the road and Stephens didn’t stop, according to a Utah Highway Patrol press release.

In the probable cause statement filed by Trooper Mike Murphy in support of the arrest, he said that McElyea was ejected from the bike; although the teen was wearing a helmet, the trooper reported it was not secured properly and it was torn from his head.

A passerby began CPR which was continued once medical personnel showed up. Life Flight also arrived, but McElyea did not respond and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

One of the troopers on scene smelled alcohol on Stephen’s breath, the probable cause statement said, and after asking Stephens about it, Stephens said he’d been drinking. Stephens admitted to drinking “less than twelve beers,” it said.

Stephens failed field sobriety tests and submitted to a blood test, Murphy said in his statement. He was then taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George for medical clearance before being taken to jail.

Although his arrest showed a charge of “DUI prior felony homicide” on the Washington County Sherriff’s booking Web page, Stephens was ultimately charged with a simple-negligence third-degree felony charge of automobile homicide. The case was filed by the Washington County Attorney Monday and Stephens is expected to make his first appearance next week for purposes of ensuring representation of counsel and the like before the case proceeds.

Stephens is out on bail, Deputy County Attorney Ryan Shaum said.


Since 2003, Stephens has been a defendant in 10 cases across the state; nine of those were misdemeanor cases and one was a felony case. In Stephen’s one previous felony case he was found guilty of 1st-degree and 3rd-degree felony possession of a controlled substance.

His misdemeanor cases involved several incidents of unlawful possession, consumption or purchase of alcohol or controlled substance by a minor, a failure to appear, as well as several traffic citations such as speeding and driving on a revoked or suspended license.

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  • Brian May 20, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I don’t envy Makay Stephens future, but the jail time certainly seems warranted, especially given his history. This story reminds me a bit of the first person convicted in Utah for a death resulting from texting and driving (Reggie Shaw). There are major differences (age, no priors, and a simple mistake doing something a lot of people did then: text and drive, vs DUI), but I hope Makay can follow the example that Reggie has set. It will bring him more peace than denying his roll in it or continuing the course he was on a week ago.

  • joanna May 20, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    This was truly a case where someone had to die in order for this repeat offender to see any consequences. TEN offenses?!? TEN?? This is just so wrong.

  • Mary May 20, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I would first like to say that I am not disrespecting the person who lost thier life in this accident when i pose this question. I am not blaming him for anything. It is just impossible to convey the proper tone when typing this out. I apologize in advance if anyo e takes this as offensive. The article says the person who hit the other ATV is being charged with negligent homocide,but it also says that the decedent did not have the helmet on correctly and it came off upon impact. My question is if the helmet had stayed on,would the victim have survived? And if so, should the person be charged with homocide since the reason the victim died might have been mainly because the helmet wasnt properly fastened? I am just trying to understand the law because it seems even if you had two identical scenarios,the charges are usually vastly different for no reason that makes sense if charges were based soley on facts and not emotion. I am NOT defending the driver.Driving anything while intoxicated demands harsh penalties. Its just that the facts arent adding up to Vehicular Homocide. If i am wrong, I would gladly admit it. That is why i am asking for clarification on the laws about this. I have no idea who the driver is but i will speak for myself that I need to remember that the driver is someone elses family and I think both parties involved deserve proper justice. This past weekend has been extremely devastating for many of our neighbors and I pray they all have the strength and support to get through these senseless tragedies. My heart goes out to you

    • Mark Vinclio May 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Mary Mary it does not that the helmet was not worn correctly or not or any fault put on that boy do you think maybe if the boy on the dirt would have stayed home that day that we would not have been in the way to get hit I guess its his fault for being there? answer to you question is still heck no if you hit someone while intoxicated or on drugs or they are a passenger in your car and you have alcohol or drugs in your system you can be changed with automobile homicide. .. same on you!!

    • HALF THE STORY? May 20, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      Did the decedent also have alcohol?

    • Steve May 21, 2014 at 7:19 am

      The main reason this young man died was that another person, now in jail, was constantly abusing alcohol and was reckless in this incident. If he had driven more carefully, the young man would be alive.

  • Are you from Dixie? May 20, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Is this guy from Dixie?

  • DB May 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    I feel much better knowing he didn’t quite finish that 12 pack 🙁

    • Mean momma May 20, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      Yeah, but he is out on bail, so he may still have the chance.

      • mom May 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm

        Mary thanks for your support as a relative i can tell you makay is just sick about this and so are all of his familybecause when he is drug through the dirt by the news before he has even been convicted of anything he is tried and convicted by the news and public the truth of it is most the things the news has listed on him were as a young kid and the boy who died was just as to blame but that will never be made public i am sure sad as it is it would have happened the same if there was no alcohol involved, My heart goes out to the family i cried and still do because i have a son his age and cant even begin to imagine what they are going through but Makay will be punishing his self for the rest of his life for this isn’t that enough?

      • mom May 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm

        he hasn’t had a drink since this day he is so sick and punishing his self and will have to live with this the rest of his life and so does his family who are being put through hell by people like you

  • HALF THE STORY? May 20, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I wonder if half the story about alcohol is being told. As a teenager, I knew several adults in their 20’s & young 30’s who provided alcohol to teenagers as young as 15. Yeah, these adults were very popular with the teenagers. They had parties at their houses where alcohol was available to the teenagers partying there. It was not uncommon to see teenagers hanging out with these adults. We’ll probably never know the full story of who was drinking alcohol in this accident. I have my suspicions it wasn’t just the 27 year old. As I said, in my teenager years, I knew many teenagers as young as 13 putting down a few beers. When I was 17, I was drinking beer with my 15 year old GF (she said she was 16). Heard this exact same comment from area adults talking about drinking beer in their teenage youths.

    • HALF THE STORY? May 20, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Was at Sand Hollow several years ago around graduation time. Saw some very young people (teenagers?) partying with many of them carrying open beers. Sorry, I don’t buy anyone’s claim that the local religious kids don’t drink, and I know for a fact their parents sure do.

    • mom May 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      He didn’t even know the kids till an hour before all this and did not give them beer they had their own vice

  • Wow! May 20, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Were some comments asking if anyone else was drinking deleted?

  • Never forget May 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    If a inebriated driver runs into someone and they die even though they didn’t have their seat belt on is the drunk guilty? In the case of a inebriated driver vs anyone we the jury find the defendant guilty as charged. What a sad sad situation for everyone involved.

  • Annonomous May 20, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    So, add additional Charges. I hope he gets the Max. Mary you are transparent in your bias. These judges are throwing the book at these offenders from now on, guaranteed, bye, bye Mckay. This community hopefully follow suit that everybody best protect our kids, or step off. Keep your drugs and alcohol out of our kids hands. Do the crime do the time. And who the … murdered the 33 year old girl dumped in Cedar city. Time for answers, MR. Prosecutor. I want our kids in seat belts all Summer. No drunks leaving the bars, put some of your trackers on that this is bull. Im tired of the lazy-fare attitudes in town, everyone is so concerned with the tweekers and drug court everything else goes to …. Lock them all up! Yea! for the seat belt crackdown, scum bags. Lets re-evaluate the real offenders here and make some room.
    Ed. ellipses.

    • HALF THE STORY? May 21, 2014 at 9:12 am

      It’s the parents’ responsibility to educate their kids about alcohol and drugs. If you think just creating more laws will do it, well… Strikes me kinda strange this 17 year was hanging out with someone 10 years older with that record.

  • Dawn Barker May 22, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Did I miss something here? I didn’t read anywhere in the article about the two even knowing each other….let alone drinking together. What is wrong with all of you? Questioning whether the you boy was drinking? He is dead because a drunk person hit him….end of story. The drunk should be charged with a dui and vehicular homicide. …end of story! There is no point to speculating about anything else. It won’t change the results and sullies the reputation of the young kid and his family.

    • mom May 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      no he is dead because he stopped in front of a four wheeler it woul have happened alcohol or not

      • Brian May 23, 2014 at 3:12 pm

        As a driver you are responsible for what is in front of you (the direction you’re traveling), not behind you. When you run into someone that is stopped the law holds you responsible, not the person that was stopped. Now if someone is tailgating you and you intentionally slam on your brakes that is different, but the person in back was still traveling too close (or they would have stopped) and will still be ticketed. Alcohol only makes the problem (both legally and reaction-time-wise) much worse.

  • Rest of story please! May 22, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Um…ya Dawn you did miss something. Like looking into other sources before making assumptions and relying on one source for all your information. “Half the story” is absolutely correct. There are several sources that state they were friends and knew each other. McKay was in the wrong by drinking and opporating an ATV. No doubt about it. But there is more to this story that is not coming out. Like previous posts, I to wonder if, and if so, how much alcohol the teen had in his system. Either way, a terrible situation for both families that could have easily been prevented.

  • S. May 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Where does it say he was a repeat offender for alcohol other than being a stupid teen who got caught drinking ? Pretty sure lots of kids get caught drinking. I see it says he has been the defendant in cases about other things but where does it say he was a repeat offer for drinking and driving? Also this article has lots of assumptions and false information in it. And after this type of an accident and obvious facial injuries if you look at the mug shot which one of you would pass a field sobriety test? The author of this article is just persicuting someone before he has even been proven guilty. Hate when the writers just look to cause controversy and more pain. And the commenters who are so judgemental. Who’s to say that if no alcohol was involved that this kid would have lived? Did alcohol truly play a factor or was it just that an accident where multiple factors including his helmet not properly fastened caused a death. I have known many situations simular to this where a helmet flying off killed the rider after an accident and alcohol was not involved.

  • mom May 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    To all you people intent on convicting Makay without a trial think about his family for a minute your putting us through gut wrenching lies and assumptions about it all was you there? do you really know what went on? he didn’t plan to do this it was an accident that would have happened anyway sad as it is my heart goes out to the family it is truly sad i cant tell you the tears our family have cried since that day and all your comments don’t help.

    • Mean momma May 23, 2014 at 11:46 pm

      I feel for both families involved. It is so very sad what happened, of course your son did not purposely hit this kid, and he may not have been able to avoid hitting him if he hadn’t been drinking that day. We will never know, but the fact still remains that he was drinking earlier and should not have been operating an ATV. You stated that he has not had anything to drink since the accident, I’m glad that he hasn’t, he should deal with this with a sober mind. I’m so sorry for what you must be going through right now. For your own sake, it is probably better not to read anymore comments. God bless you and your family.

  • Jon R. Cocktoasten May 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    “5” has decided to go after the author of the article… Hmmmm “5” where are you getting your information? Maybe biased from people who know people??? The article is not biased, it is based on information the writer gathered prior to writing the article. Had you provided the information, maybe the story would have read differently… But, YOU DIDN’T! I do not in any way believe the author of the article put any type of spin on it now did they add their own feelings. These are news journalists just providing the people with the news as know it. I’m sure if something changed and it was determined that the decedent was involved in some type of illegal activity, that would be reported as well… Nuff said, I’m tired of critics pointing out grammar or spelling errors as well as personally attacking the reporters! They provide a service!

  • Jon R. Cocktoasten May 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Don’t bother, I already found my grammar errors!!!

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