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Boy in polygamous town dies in forklift accident

Published March 27, 2014 8:05 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A 14-year-old boy died in a forklift crash earlier this month in a mostly polygamous town, prompting investigations from numerous government agencies.

Rulon Barlow Jessop died March 10 about 5:44 p.m. when a forklift he was driving went over the side of a bridge west of Colorado City, Ariz., according to Mohave County Medical Examiner Rexene Worrell. Jessop died instantly from blunt-force injuries in what appeared to be an accident.

Citing a report on the incident, Worrell said another boy was also riding on the forklift as it traveled along a dirt road just before the accident. That boy jumped off before the vehicle went over the bridge.

The incident drew attention from a number of different agencies. Mohave County Attorney Matthew Smith said his office has taken a look at the incident, along with investigators from the county sheriff's office, the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Department of Labor.

A Mohave County Sheriff's spokeswoman earlier this week referred questions to the Colorado City Marshal's office, which had not returned calls Wednesday. The Arizona Attorney General's Office also did not immediately return calls.

However, the incident is not the first time children's activities have raised eyebrows — and investigations — in mostly polgyamous Colorado City and neighboring Hildale, Utah. Last year, The U.S. Department of Labor investigated a pecan farm operated by a member of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The investigation grew out of a CNN report that the farm was using FLDS children to harvest the nuts.

Because few agencies returned calls this week seeking information about Jessop's death, it was unclear if there were similar concerns about child labor, or even what exactly caught investigators attention. It was also unclear what the various investigations might have discovered.

So, expect updates on this story as we uncover more information.

— Jim Dalrymple II

Twitter: @jimmycdii