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A Kearns man who pleaded guilty to killing a 3-year-old boy and injuring nine other people while driving intoxicated will spend up to 15 years in prison for the crime.
Third District Court Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills handed down the sentence for Manuel de Jesus Guinea, during a late afternoon hearing Friday, after the man expressed his sorrow for the accident.
"I appreciate your remorse and I hope that it is, as it should be, very deep and very genuine," she said.
The 45-year-old Guinea had pleaded guilty to one count of automobile homicide, a second-degree felony, as part of a plea bargain in September. Nine other charges were dropped, although Guinea agreed to pay restitution on all 10 charges.
On Jan. 24, Guinea drove his Dodge Ram through a red light at 5400 South and 1300 West at about 65 mph, causing a crash that involved five other vehicles.
The pickup truck initially rear-ended a Subaru station wagon, in which 3-year-old Zane Thurber was killed.
The impact pushed the Subaru into the car in front of it, causing a chain reaction that involved four other cars.
Nearly everyone in each of the other vehicles also was injured.
Police say Guinea initially attempted to avoid police by blending in with bystanders at the scene of the crash, but was detained by witnesses until officers arrived.
In court papers, prosecutors say witnesses reported seeing Guinea "weaving in and out of his lane of travel" prior to the crash.
The court was packed with family. About 20 were Zane's relatives, all dressed in yellow and black, with yellow ribbons pinned to their chests. Another 10 or so were relatives of Guinea, and like the Thurber family, cried through the proceedings.
Three of Zane's relatives his mother, his maternal aunt and maternal grandfather spoke before the sentencing, telling the court about the emotional devastation the family experienced because of Guinea's decision to drive drunk.
Zane's mother asked the judge to order the maximum punishment. Aubrie Thurber said her husband, Matt Thurber, is altered physically and emotionally by the crash and that her older son, who was 6 and sitting next to his brother in the car, will spend a lifetime recovering.
"Whenever he gets a chance to make a wish, he wishes his brother was still here with us," she said.
With the help of an interpreter, Guinea, expressed his remorse to the court, saying he never intended to kill a child or hurt anyone that night.
"I understand the parents hate me and they are resentful toward me, because I too am a parent," he told the court. "If someone would have done that to me, I would be asking for the same thing."
Guinea is a native of El Salvador and upon release will be turned over to immigration officials for deportation, the judge said.