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Cops: Utah man attacked with chemical lye

Skull and crossbones, poison
AP

SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah man is facing assault and mayhem charges, accused of attacking another man by spraying him in the face with the toxic chemical lye.

Richard Gilmore, 42, of Tooele thought the victim stole his wife's car, prosecutors said. Gilmore is accused of knocking on the man's door about 2 a.m. and spraying him with the caustic substance.

When police arrived at the home on Sept. 7, the lye had turned the man's eye white and made some of his hair fall out, according to charging documents. He was flown to University of Utah hospital by medical helicopter, where he was treated for first- and second-degree burns on his face, scalp and neck.

Doctors don't know whether the man will regain vision in his left eye, the charges state.

Hours after the attack, detectives say they found the lye sprayer and a pair gloves on a dirt road near Middle Canyon after talking to an unnamed person who reported Gilmore was the attacker.

The principal of the elementary school Gilmore's children attend told police he'd asked the Tooele man about his new car. Gilmore told him the Dodge Durango he usually uses to drop off the children had been stolen, but he had "taken care of it," according to charging documents.

Police arrested Gilmore on Sept. 25 and said he acknowledged spraying the lye because the victim stole his wife's car and damaged it. Officers also say they found a glass methamphetamine pipe in his pocket.

Gilmore was charged Monday with aggravated assault, mayhem, weapon trafficking and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Prosecutors haven't said whether the victim of the attack did steal the car.

The attack was the second recent incident in which a person was harmed by lye in Utah. On Aug. 10, Jan Harding, 67, was hospitalized with severe burns to her mouth and throat after she accidentally drank iced tea laced with an industrial cleaning solution containing chemical lye at a restaurant in a suburb of Salt Lake City. She has since recovered.