WASHINGTON COUNTY — A group of Brigham Young University students returned to their Quail Creek State Park campground Friday to find a man inside one of their tents. The man had allegedly slashed nine of the group’s tents with a knife, shattered the windows of their vehicle and caused nearly $5,000 worth of damage to personal property and property belonging to the university.
This isn’t the first time a BYU study group had a bad experience at Quail Creek. Last May, another BYU group studying in the area witnessed a motorist crash her car into the reservoir. The woman’s car and body were later located 28 feet under water.
The BYU group, who had their camp set up for several days at the Hurricane park, said they had left their camp Friday morning to study the area and then returned around dinner time, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Hurricane City Police Department in support of the arrest.
When the group returned, they found a man who was later identified as 26-year-old Eric John Koontz, of Hurricane, in one of the tents, the arresting officer wrote in a sworn statement.
The group found that nine of their tents had been destroyed after being slashed on the sides and tops with a knife, the report stated. Several fridges, stoves, mattresses and canopies had also been damaged.
Additionally, the group discovered all the windows had been shattered on one of their vehicles, and one of the doors had been dented, according to the statement. An estimated $4,707 in total damages was reported as a result of Koontz’s alleged actions.
The BYU group was able to keep Koontz at the camp until police arrived, according to the statement.
“I talked to the suspect who was sitting on the ground and asked him what was going on,” the officer wrote in the statement. “He said he had been there all day and wanted to destroy everything because it was fun.”
Koontz was arrested and transported to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office filed an information in 5th District Court accusing Koontz of third-degree felony criminal mischief for intentionally destroying property, along with nine class A misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass within a dwelling.
Judge Jeffrey Wilcox, of the 5th District Court, ordered $10,000 bail for Koontz’s release pending trial.
Koontz was found indigent by the court during his initial court appearance Monday and will be represented by court-appointed attorney Jay Winward. Koontz is scheduled to make his next court appearance Tuesday afternoon.
Last May, another BYU geology group camping at Quail Creek reported hearing a loud crash coming from the opposite side of the reservoir. The group observed a cloud of dust and something in the water slowly sinking.
As the group made their way around the reservoir, they discovered broken glass and a hub cap and decided to call police. Emergency responders located a woman’s body inside a red Ford passenger car resting 28 feet under the water approximately six hours later.
The deceased woman was identified as Sherry L. Cowger, 58, of Hurricane.
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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