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Thousands attend slain Utah officer’s funeral

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Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride died Jan. 30, 2014, when a suspect opened fire during a traffic stop. Wride was 44.

By jessica miller

and jim dalrymple II

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 05 2014 10:03AM
Updated Feb 5, 2014 10:53PM

Orem • When Cory Wride was called to serve a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York, his parents and siblings wondered how the "shy cowboy" from small-town Utah would fare in a such big and bustling place.

Just three weeks after he arrived in the Big Apple, his sister, Anne Curtis, said their family received a package in the mail containing his cowboy boots, adding that he "probably wouldn’t be needing them anymore."

On Wednesday, with several thousand fellow law enforcement officials in attendance, the Wride family and friends remembered their shy cowboy’s life during the Utah County Sheriff’s sergeant’s funeral. Wride, 44, of Benjamin, was killed while on duty last Thursday.

The father of five was described Wednesday as a hunter. A camper. A horseman and a rancher. But, most importantly, he was remembered as a husband, father, son, friend and law enforcement officer.

"Our dad loved his profession," son Nathan Mohler told attendees at the Utah Valley University Event Center in Orem. "And he loved all the people he worked with."

Wride worked for the sheriff’s office for 19 years in various departments, including patrol, SWAT, K9 and administration.

"Even the people that he arrested [and] took to jail, he treated with dignity and respect," Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Eldon Packer recalled during Wednesday’s service. "Cory wanted to be one of those who stood tall and did right."

Beyond law enforcement, Wride had another great love: his family. Many of the family members and law enforcement officer who spoke at the man’s funeral reflected on the great adoration and love he had for his children and his wife of 18 years, Nannette Wride.

"He loved her dearly," Packer recalled. "Together they chose a life that was centered on the family and service to others and to have faith in God."

Utah County Sheriff’s Deputy Shawn Radmall said Wride was a proud father to his children — Nathan, Chance, Shea, Tyesun and KylieAnne.

During their hunting trips together, Radmall said Wride talked frequently about how proud he was of the men that his sons grew up to be and how much he loved his "baby girl."

"Cory was like family to me," Radmall said. "My co-worker, my hunting partner and most of all, my friend ... I am a better person for having known him."

Wride’s father, Blake Wride, wondered how his son ­— whom he described as a quiet person — would react to the large funeral.

"We often joked, even today, what he would be saying about all the honor and recognition that has come to him," the father said. "He didn’t need that, he didn’t want that ... he went about what he did quietly."

American flags lined the Utah Valley University campus Wednesday as thousands of well-wishers — including law enforcement officers from all over Utah and the nation — filled the university’s event center, which was decorated with a large number of flower arrangements. The sergeant’s cowboy hat hung off one floral arrangement near his flag-draped casket.

Brother-in-law Johnny Revill said before the funeral service that Cory Wride was a private person who likely would "roll his eyes" at such a large gathering on his behalf. But Revill said his family was thankful for the support of other law enforcement officials and their families.

"This brotherhood of officers is something that I envy," Revill said.

Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said the outpouring of support was meaningful to his department, and the solidarity of the brotherhood of officers helps them gain closure.

"This is the day that we dread," Tracy said during Wednesday’s services. "We pray that this day will never come. But evil has crossed our path and we are here ... All of us here owe [Wride] a debt we cannot repay. Cory, we miss you already. There will forever be a hole in our heart. God bless you and be with you, my brother."

Wride was killed last Thursday near Eagle Mountain. He had stopped his patrol car to check on a pickup with flashers blinking on State Road 73 when an occupant of the truck, 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui, allegedly shot him to death while Wride was in his vehicle.

Garcia-Jauregui then fled south to Santaquin, where he encountered Deputy Greg Sherwood, 38, who was shot and wounded in the head. Sherwood was initially hospitalized in critical condition, but Sheriff Tracy said Wednesday that Sherwood was recovering and could be released from the hospital within the next few days.

Later on the day of the shootings, Garcia-Jauregui was wounded during a gun fight with Juab County Sheriff’s officers on Interstate 15 south of Nephi. He died the next day at a hospital.

Wride was buried at the cemetery in Spanish Fork, where crowds began lining the streets more than an hour before Wride’s procession left the event center in Orem.

Their numbers were small at first— just a few dozen people bundled tightly against the dry cold — but by 1 p.m. their ranks had swelled to the hundreds. Each time a police car passed, the crowds quieted, craning their necks and gazing down the hill to see if it was Wride.

Shelly Boyer was among those in the crowd. Boyer didn’t know Wride, but attends church with Sherwood’s mother. Boyer said she came out to meet Wride’s funeral procession because they were part of the same community, which makes them part of the same family.

"When there are members of our family in distress we’re there for them," Boyer said.

June Dutton, of Spanish Fork, also came to greet the procession. As she waited, Dutton handed out American flags to strangers on the street. Dutton also didn’t know Wride, but said she was proud of his work and believed he would have a chance to confront his killer in the next life.

Wride’s procession arrived about 1:50 p.m., preceded by hundreds of police motorcycles riding in tight formation. Near the entrance to the Spanish Fork Cemetery the string of cars halted and Wride’s casket was loaded into a black, horse-drawn hearse. Overhead, a massive flag rippled in an almost-imperceptible breeze.

The crowds, which appeared to number in the hundreds and included scores of law enforcement officers, gradually congregated around Wride’s burial site. An hour passed. The crowd, already somber, hushed and the clip clop of horse hooves echoed from a hundred yards away. Slowly, the horse-drawn hearse came into view between columns of saluting police officers.

The ceremony was short. Soon after 3 p.m., Wride’s father, Blake Wride, dedicated the grave — a tradition in the LDS Church — and described the site as a "hallowed place." He also said the grave would be Wride’s resting place "until the resurrection, at which time he will come forth."

Four helicopters then passed over head, a group of sheriff’s officers fired a rifle salute and a Utah County Sheriff’s honor guard handed out U.S. flags to Wride’s family.

As the crowd dispersed, Wride’s friend Roger Morgan led a riderless quarter-horse back to a trailer outside the cemetery. The horse belonged to Wride, who according to Morgan, enjoyed the country life. In the summer, Wride baled hay. In the winter, he faced the cold in order to knock ice off his animals’ water lines.

During the funeral procession, Wride’s black cowboy hat sat in his empty saddle, and his boots were reversed in the stirrups. Morgan, who stayed watched over the horse, named Twinkie, throughout the afternoon, said the gesture had roots in the military and was meant to honor a good man and friend.

"This is a country tribute to a good country boy that’s lost," Morgan said as he fought back tears.

— Tribune reporter Michael McFall contributed to this story.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller

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