Estimated read time: 8-9 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake entrepreneur and one of the founders of a popular Salt Lake artisan bakery was killed over the weekend when a suspected impaired driver fleeing from police ran a stop sign and slammed into her vehicle, according to Salt Lake police.
On Tuesday, police confirmed that Thy Hoang Vu, 33, was killed when her car was hit by a truck being pursued by a North Salt Lake police officer. Vu is also known as Thy Vu Mims, co-founder and owner of Mims Bakery, according to friends, family members and local business owners.
"One of the kindest humans I ever got to know. Utah's food industry lost an amazing person this last weekend," was one of the many messages posted in tribute to Mims on social media.
Police also announced Tuesday evening that the driver who allegedly hit Mims — a person with a history of impaired driving, fleeing from police and intoxication, according to court records — had been moved from the hospital and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail.
As friends, family members and local business owners mourned Mim's death, the investigation into the crash is underway while some are questioning whether the pursuit should have been called off when it went into a residential area.
On Saturday, two men being chased by a North Salt Lake police officer ran a stop sign in a residential neighborhood in Salt Lake City and smashed into another car passing through the intersection, according to police. Two women were in the other vehicle. The driver, Mims, was killed and her passenger was hospitalized with critical injuries. A Salt Lake police spokesman said there was no change in the passenger's condition as of Tuesday. Her name has not been released.
A dog that was inside Mims' vehicle was also killed.
Likewise, the two men in the fleeing truck were also taken to a local hospital for what police said were injuries not considered to be life-threatening. The driver of the truck was under police guard from the time he arrived, according to Salt Lake police.
Police announced Tuesday night that 39-year-old Christian Cody Facer, of Clinton, the driver of the truck, was released from the hospital and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of automobile homicide, failing to respond to an officer's signal to stop resulting in death, two counts of DUI resulting in serious injury, driving on a suspended license, having an open container in his vehicle, speeding, reckless driving, and an ignition interlock violation.
The passenger in Facer's truck was not identified and remains in the hospital, police added in a prepared statement.
According to a police booking affidavit. Facer's blood-alcohol content was measured at a staggering 0.354%, or seven times the legal limit in Utah. Facer's passenger told police they had been drinking that day since 6 a.m., the affidavit states.
Salt Lake police activated their Officer Involved Critical Incident Team to investigate the fatal crash, which is the same procedure used for officer-involved shootings, as well as the Crash Reconstruction Team. North Salt Lake police are also conducting their own internal investigation.
Based on preliminary information, North Salt Lake Police Chief Craig Black said he believes his officer was acting within the department's pursuit policy.
In any pursuit, Black said officers are constantly weighing and evaluating the risks of the situation as they are occurring. A supervisor is also always monitoring the chase and can tell the officer to stop pursuing a motorist at any time.
"No pursuit is without risk. It is a risk and it is a very difficult decision," Black said. "It is a very difficult, constant weighing of the risks."
The chief said approximately 90% of the pursuits his officers are involved in are terminated due to public safety concerns. He said the department is "heartbroken" over what happened Saturday.
"This is not how we ever hope these ever turn out," the chief said.
In Saturday's pursuit, which lasted about five minutes, police had to weigh the pros and cons of chasing a suspected drunk driver that had allegedly already run cars off the road, or stop and look for the fleeing vehicle at another time, he said.
Black said the situation began when emergency dispatchers started receiving multiple calls about noon of a Ford F-250 with two men driving erratically and "running people off the road." At least one witness told police that the men were passing around and drinking out of a bottle suspected to contain alcohol, Black said.
The truck was reported to be driving erratically on U.S. 89 near 2600 South. An officer spotted the vehicle speeding near 350 North in North Salt Lake and attempted to pull it over.
The truck stopped for a red light at Eagle Ridge Drive and had its right blinker on, seemingly indicating he was about to pull over, Black said. Instead, when the traffic light turned green, the driver fled.
The officer pursued the truck onto I-15 with his overhead lights and siren on, then followed as it exited at 1000 North in Salt Lake City and headed south on 1200 West.
At this point, Black said he believes the officer was waiting for backup to get in position, either to deploy tire spikes or perform a PIT maneuver. He said officers don't just keep pursuing a vehicle hoping that it will eventually stop.
"We do have a pursuit policy that provides for officers to be able to engage for behavior that is a substantial public safety risk," he said.
But when the fleeing truck reached the intersection of 1200 West and 500 North in the Fairpark neighborhood, the driver ran the stop sign and T-boned into a 2014 Nissan Pathfinder that was passing through, Black said. The chase ended about 12:15 p.m.
Black did not know how fast the fleeing truck was going when he hit the vehicle, but noted it was higher than the posted speed limit for the neighborhood.
Messages of remorse and condolences filled social media on Tuesday as word of Mims' death spread.
A Facebook post from A Mano Artisan Pasta Co. in Salt Lake City praised Mims as being a "higher education professional, marketing guru, a graduate student, an advocate for equality and social justice, a philanthropist, an entrepreneur ... a community builder, a writer, the truest friend you could ask for, but most importantly she was THE best human being I've ever met.
"She was a beam of gentle yet powerful light," the post continued. "Oh my friend, my sweet dear friend, how am I going to miss you! How is the world going to be the same without you?! A drunk driver may have taken your life but your legacy will live on forever."
The King's English Bookshop added in a post, "We are deeply, deeply saddened by the loss of our friend Thy Vu yesterday. Thy was a community fixture and an enthusiastic, dedicated businesswoman."
"Her advocacy and hard work changed our city in so many ways. One of the last things she posted on the Mims SLC insta account was her collecting supplies for unsheltered high school students. She had a big heart," Nico Dicou posted.
"Thy, along with her husband Tripp, was an up-and-coming entrepreneur who didn't just sell delicious bread, she lifted up fellow small businesses such as ours and advocated for causes she was passionate about," stated another post from Lincoln Street Farm. "Losing Thy is a huge loss for our whole community in so many ways."
"Thy was an extremely thoughtful and wonderful person in our local community," Blended Table, a Salt Lake catering company, added in a Facebook post. "Thy had a HUGE heart and she was always donating her time and money to various causes."
Mims is survived by her husband and two young sons. A GoFundMe* account has been set up to help them.
According to court records, Facer has a history of impaired driving and fleeing from police.
Most recently, he was charged with DUI in 4th District Court on Sept. 10. In that case, Facer allegedly fled from officers while impaired before rolling into both another vehicle and a Saratoga Springs police vehicle, according to a police booking affidavit. When he was arrested, Facer could not keep his balance and declined to perform field sobriety tests saying he was "dirty" for alcohol, the affidavit states.
On July 17, he was charged in Millard Justice Court with intoxication and having an open container on the freeway. A warrant for his arrest was issued in that case on Aug. 30.
On June 18, 2020, Facer was convicted of DUI and failing to stop at the command of police. Charging documents state he also fled from police in that case going at least 100 mph on Redwood Road. A police booking affidavit states Facer swerved into oncoming traffic as police were pursuing him, prompting them to terminate their chase. Police put out an alert to other officers who later spotted and arrested him. He was later convicted and given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to serve six months in jail, according to court records.
He was also convicted of DUI in 2015.
*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.