A Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) trooper has died during a rescue operation. Thirty-four-year-old Aaron Beesley, a 13-year veteran of the UHP, had been involved in a search and rescue (SAR) mission for two teenagers who became lost on the Mount Olympus Trail on the afternoon of 30 June.
The teenagers had been safely retrieved and taken down from the mountain by helicopter while Beesley waited at the top, but he was not present when crews returned. They later located him a while later at the bottom of a 60-foot cliff. It appears that he was attempting to retrieve his backpack, which had fallen down a minor drop, and had somehow missed his footing and fallen off the mountain.
A recipient of the UHP’s Medal of Excellence, as well as a skilled developer of smartphone apps for troopers on the job, Beesley leaves behind a wife and three young sons. There have been many tributes from colleagues and family members.
“This trooper died in the line of duty while engaged in a heroic effort,” said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder, while Beesley’s father Robert described him as ‘a great man’. UHP trooper Steve Winward added: “It’s been many years since we lost a trooper in this department. A lot of officers are taking this very hard.”
Beesley had also worked as assistant fire chief in the town of Corinne, and is remembered as a keen storyteller and a mechanical whiz who loved to fix things. “The world lost a brilliant young man,” said his mother, Laretta, at a press conference on 1 July.