Jury finds man guilty of fatal DUI crash that killed toymaker

May 17, 2024, 4:13 PM | Updated: 5:27 pm

WEST JORDAN — A man was convicted on Friday of causing a crash that killed a volunteer toymaker while driving under the influence.

Asael Paul Lyman, 73, was found guilty by a jury of negligently operating a vehicle resulting in death — often called automobile homicide — a second-degree felony; driving under the influence with a young child in the car, a class A misdemeanor; and three infractions: failing to stay in a lane, speeding and running a red light.

His sentencing is scheduled for July 15. A charge of reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor, was dismissed ahead of the trial.

Lyman was charged in April 2023, almost five months after the Dec. 1, 2022, collision. Charging documents said he caused a high-speed crash, killing another driver, while driving intoxicated with his grandson in the vehicle.

A west jordan courtroom with a judge, prosecution and defense lawyers

Asael Paul Lyman, 73, was found guilty of automobile homicide on May 17, 2024, in a West Jordan courtroom. (Garna Mejia, KSL TV)

After Lyman was found guilty, his attorney argued that due to his medical conditions, he should not be taken into custody, but 3rd District Judge James Gardner ordered him taken into custody immediately.

Lyman’s jury trial began on Tuesday, and the case was given to the jury on Thursday afternoon. The jury deliberated for less than an hour on Thursday and reached a verdict Friday afternoon. His attorney argued that while Lyman had a drink, it was a medical emergency that caused him to crash into Thacker’s truck near 9000 South and Bangerter Highway at 89 mph.

Lyman was driving a 2018 Ram pickup truck when police say he exited the Bangerter Highway at 9000 South, going 98 mph, according to charging documents. After running a red light and traveling through multiple lanes, the charges said, he hit another vehicle while going 89 mph.

Claude Nile Thacker, 75, of Murray, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Thacker made wooden toy cars as part of Tiny Tim’s Foundation for Kids, which gives away over 100,000 cars a year to children all over the world, founder Alton Thacker said.

He told KSL that Nile Thacker devoted 60 to 70 hours a week to the foundation.

Claude Thacker was driving a load of toy cars to hospitals in the Salt Lake Valley when he was hit and killed, and the toys were spread across the intersection where his car was hit.

Charging documents said Thacker’s 2016 Chevy pickup was pushed through a chain-link fence and a shed.

Police said Lyman told them he had just picked up his grandson from school and they were driving home. The grandson was treated for injuries at a hospital.

Lyman’s blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash was measured at 0.12%, or more than twice the legal limit, court records state.

Garna Mejia contributed to this report.

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Jury finds man guilty of fatal DUI crash that killed toymaker