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Utah family needs financial help after deadly crash

Published January 27, 2014 5:47 pm

Crime • Relatives have set up a website and credit union fund to collect donations.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When Matt Thurber would come home for lunch and put his keys in the lock, he would hear his 3-year-old son shout excitedly for daddy.

That young life was taken from him Saturday night when an alleged drunk driver rear-ended Thurber's car.

A witness pegged Manuel de Jesus Guinea's speed at about 70 mph shortly before police say he drove into Thurber's Subaru, which was stopped for a red light at 5400 S. 1300 West in Taylorsville. Thurber's son Zane, restrained in the backseat, died at the scene.

"It's a senseless, senseless crime," said Thurber, who is employed at The Salt Lake Tribune as a sports clerk.

Zane was an adventurous, outgoing boy who crammed a lot of life into the three years he had, Thurber said during a Monday interview. He loved playing Peek-A-Boo, swimming and had "a real strong connection" with his mom, Thurber said.

Now the Thurbers need help paying for Zane's funeral, medical expenses and other costs. Relatives set up the Thurber Family Funeral & Medical Expense Fund at YouCaring.com, where, as of 11:30 a.m. Monday, they had received about $13,000 toward a goal of $50,000.

The family has also set up a fund at TransWest Credit Union, at 39 W. 2100 South, under the name Aubrey Thurber, Zane's mother.

In addition to Zane's death, the crash caused Matt Thurber to suffer a concussion, and knocked his 6-year-old son Holden's tooth out.

"It was just, very, very painful. I [have been] rear-ended before, but it was nothing like this. It was the most jolting feeling I've ever had," Thurber said. The airbags blew and he heard Holden scream for his brother.

"I was hoping that he was just knocked out, unconscious," he said. Thurber only learned after arriving at Intermountain Medical Center for his own injuries that his son had died.

A witness to the crash did not see Guinea's brake lights before his pick-up truck crashed, according to a probable cause statement. The impact caused a chain reaction that pushed the Thurbers' Subaru into the car in front of it, and so on, until five vehicles were involved in the accident.

After the crash, police said Guinea, 45, got out of his truck and tried to blend in with other witnesses that had stopped to help. One witness held him until police could arrive.

Police said they suspect alcohol was a factor in the crash and arrested Guinea on suspicion of automobile homicide and driving under the influence. A witness reported that Guinea smelled "like a bar," according to a jail probable cause statement.

Jail booking records also show there is an immigration hold on Guinea, who was being held at the Salt Lake County jail in lieu of $250,000 bail.


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