6,000 riders honor Utah officers who gave everything
Cory Wride's family is going to miss his daughter painting his toenails, even though he had SWAT training the next day.
Wride's wife Nanette, widowed after the Utah County Sheriff's sergeant was shot and killed on Jan. 30, will miss the man who loved her. She recalled how one day, red and blue lights in her rear-view mirror caused her to speed up a bit, then pull over, expecting a ticket.
"But then out of the rear-view mirror comes my sweet husband. He gets out, walks up to my door and says 'Sweetheart, I just wanted to make sure that you had breakfast,' and he handed me some McDonald's," Nanette Wride said, standing before a somber wall bearing names of Utah's fallen law enforcement officers, including her husband's. "And he said 'Ma'am, could you please slow yourself down?' "
Sunday morning, those familiar red and blue lights led a motorcade of about 6,000 riders from Lindon to the Fallen Officers Memorial at the Utah State Capitol, in memory of Wride and Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson. The ride is an annual tradition to raise thousands of dollars to maintain the memorial and create an emergency fund for families who lose their uniformed loved ones.
The motorcyclists' arrival sounded like thunder as they pulled up State Street.
"I've never been on a ride like this," Nanette Wride said. "It was just amazing. The support and how impressive everyone was all together, coming together, for one reason."
Wride, 44, was killed when he stopped to check on a pickup that was stopped on the shoulder of State Road 73 near Eagle Mountain. He was sitting in his patrol car when, police allege, Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui fired on Wride through the truck's sliding rear window.
Johnson was shot on Sept. 1 investigating a suspicious vehicle in Draper.
Comparing the first six months of 2014 to the first six of 2013, officers shot and killed in the line of duty nationwide is up 61 percent, said Draper Police Chief Bryan Roberts. Johnson and Wride's names are the 136th and 137th to be added to Utah's wall.
"It's very sobering. We are so appreciative of the support," Roberts said. "This is a sacred place."
The wall confirms that while the fallen officers' physical presence may be gone, their memories will live on, said Desirae Payne, Johnson's sister. She can't believe it's been almost a year since his death; some days it feels like yesterday, others an eternity.
But the family is grateful for the community's support, and it's amazing to think that these kinds of events are still going on almost a year later, Payne said.
"All of you here represent a drop. And together, we create an ocean of unwavering support, family, community and love," she said. "This wall behind me represents hope."
The first name on the wall belongs to Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Rodney Badger, who drowned in 1853 during a rescue at the Weber River. His great-great-grandson, Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon, said he was honored to share a uniform with Wride.
"The deputies he supervised will tell you how much he cared for them. The citizens he responded to assist will tell you how they knew he was unique by the way he helped make a bad situation bearable," Cannon said of Wride. "And administrators at the Utah County Sheriff's Office will tell you how they could sleep at night, knowing all was well when Sgt. Wride was on duty."
As Nanette Wride walked down the stairs of her house before the ride, her hand on the banister, she wondered what the walls would say about her family if they could speak.
"In our family, we miss him curling up with my little girl at night and being by her until she fell asleep," Nanette Wride said. Johnson's family, she said, is going to miss "Derek kneeling down and playing Legos with Benson, and taking that one-on-one time with his son, because I know that little boy meant everything to him."