Man Admits Guilt in 2019 Vehicle Death

Man Admits Guilt in 2019 Vehicle Death

ROCK SPRINGS – A South Carolina man pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges Wednesday related to a 2019 crash outside Rock Springs that claimed the life of a passenger in his vehicle.

Matthew Warren Smith, 26, appeared at an arraignment Wednesday afternoon before Circuit Court Judge John Prokos on charges of homicide by vehicle, failure to maintain a single lane of travel, and careless driving. The homicide by vehicle charge carries up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine, while the failure to maintain a single lane of travel charge, as listed, is punishable by not more than 20 days in jail and a fine of up to $200, while the careless driving charge is punishable by a fine of up to $200. Smith entered guilty pleas to all three charges.

A sentencing hearing was set for March 13 at 10 a.m. because Prokos said the court wasn’t ready to proceed with sentencing. Questions if restitution related to the crash needed to be added to the sentence could not be answered at the arraignment. Deputy Sweetwater County and Prosecuting Attorney Micaela Lira told Prokos a civil suit against Smith was settled, but an application to the Wyoming Crime Victims Compensation Fund was made by the victims as well. Also, the time allows victims involved with the case to prepare victim impact statements for sentencing.

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After hearing the guilty pleas, Prokos asked Smith questions about the crash and events leading up to it. Smith said he, Jordyn Winters and her child were traveling from South Carolina, and he had driven the prior 10-12 hours, saying he took over driving duties in Tennessee after Winters had gotten pulled over in Georgia. Prokos immediately questioned this comment, saying it takes roughly 18 hours just to drive from Chicago to the Wyoming State Line. Prokos also questioned Smith’s assertion that he was driving 70-80 miles per hour during the trip. Smith said he fell asleep while driving, which resulted in the vehicle drifting into the opposite lane of Foothill Boulevard near the KOA campground and led to the head-on collision that killed Winters.

Smith said he doesn’t remember anything surrounding the crash, saying his next memories are of waking up in the hospital. He said he hadn’t consumed any alcohol during the drive. According to court documents, Smith was partially standing outside of the Nissan Altima he was driving after the crash, with his left leg outside of the vehicle and his right leg pinned beneath the steering wheel column. The child, who was born in 2017, was in a car seat and was removed from the vehicle by people that had stopped to help and were concerned the vehicle could ignite. Winters was unresponsive. After being removed from the car and taken to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, she was pronounced dead.

There was uncertainty about the failure to maintain a single lane of travel charge as the Wyoming Legislature changed the language for the charge in 2019 and the charge may only involve the potential fine. Additionally, the charges themselves weren’t filed until 2022. Lira told Prokos the reason for the delay in charging was due to waiting for a death certificate for Winters, as well as a medic report and reports from the different agencies involved in responding to the crash.