'It's not fair,' father says of DUI crash that killed his 3-year-old son

Published: Monday, Jan. 27 2014 6:33 p.m. MST

Zane Thurber, 3, died Saturday when a man suspected of driving drunk crashed into a vehicle he was riding in while his family was stopped at a red light in Taylorsville.

Family photo

TAYLORSVILLE — An emotional father said Monday it's not fair that his 3-year-old son died over the weekend at the hands of an alleged drunk driver.

“I’m angered,” said the father of 3-year-old Zane Thurber. “The simple message is don’t drive drunk.”

Matt Thurber said he didn’t see the truck that hit him and can only remember the aftermath.

“I looked back,” Thurber recalled. “I saw Holden, the 6-year-old, cry out to his brother and I was hoping that Zane was just unconscious, just knocked out and not deceased.”

“If you want to have a few drinks, please stay home, get a designated driver — but this guy was way out of control and it’s not fair,” Thurber said. “It’s sad, and it’s going to affect our family for a very long time.”

Police on Monday worked to recreate the scene of the chain reaction crash involving a suspected DUI driver that took the life of the young boy. Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said it isn't yet known how fast the driver was traveling prior to crashing into Thurber's vehicle, which was stopped at a red light at 5400 South and 1300 West Saturday night.

Detectives hope to have that answer and others in time, although it will take a while to go through the reconstruction process.

Witnesses told police that Manuel de Jesus Guinea, 45, was weaving in and out of traffic and driving at a high rate of speed.

After the collision, investigators say Guinea tried to blend in with the crowd of bystanders when someone spotted him and held him for police. He was booked into jail for investigation of automobile homicide and driving under the influence.

Thurber and wife Aubrie sat teary-eyed in their home Monday looking at pictures of their little boy.

Matt Thurber described Zane as “playful,” “ambitious,” and an “old soul” who “lived a lifetime in those three years.”

He recalled the last time he played with his son on what had been a “perfect day.”

“We bonded so close,” Thurber said. “I took him to McDonald’s and he was in the play pen and I saw him in a spaceship. He was on his last run and he waved goodbye. Then, hours later, he was gone.”

In a statement they released to the public, they described Zane as "an incredible young boy, full of love and excitement."

“It was the simple things in life that were so special for Zane — spending time with his mother, playing with his brother, going to the park with dad to swing on the swings, and bundling up in the winter to make snowmen,” the statement said. “Zane was an incredibly bright boy who was full of potential and excited to experience life. We are devastated by the loss that our family has experienced.”

The family was working Monday to finalize funeral plans. The Thurbers have set up a fundraiser at youcaring.com to help pay for funeral and medical costs and have also set up an account for donations at the TransWest Credit Union, 39 W. 2100 South, under Aubrie Thurber for Zane Thurber.

Email: aadams@deseretnews.com

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