Families of fallen law officers find peace at memorial wall

Published May 1, 2014 10:22 pm
Ceremony • Families of 2 fallen law officers find some peace at memorial wall.
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Quiet sobs punctuated Johnny Revill's tenor as he sang in honor of two fallen peace officers.

"Let him live, bring him home," Revill sang, as much to the dozens of living officers and family members who gathered Thursday on the State Capitol lawn as to Draper police Sgt. Derek Johnson and Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride, whose names were added to the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial.

"I never pass a police officer or a police car that I don't thank God for you, for your protection for all of us," Elder Mervyn B. Arnold said, his voice breaking. Arnold, a general authority in the LDS church and a friend of Wride, tearfully told Wride's family: "He loved you so much. He just wanted the very best for each one of you, and believe me, he still does."

Wride, 44, died Jan. 30 near Eagle Mountain. He had stopped his patrol car to check on a pickup with flashers blinking when an occupant of the truck, 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui, allegedly shot him to death. Jauregui later allegedly wounded another officer and was shot to death by deputies in Juab County.

After placing her husband's name plate on the Utah Fallen Officers Memorial, Nanette Wride said the memorial helped bring closure.

"My biggest fear is he will be forgotten," Nanette Wride said. "Now he's not going to be forgotten. The community has remembered him in so many ways."

Sgt. Johnson's father, Randy, thanked the officers, friends and residents of Draper who had reached out since Johnson was shot to death Sept. 1 after he, like Wride, pulled over to check on a stopped motorist. Timothy T. Walker is accused of ambushing Johnson as he sat in the police car, then shooting his girlfriend and himself; he and his girlfriend survived, and he is charged with aggravated murder.

"The blue ribbons that were placed on two trees we have out front — they're still there, and we love that," Randy Johnson said. "It was the little things ... that brought us so much comfort."

But, Randy Johnson said, the family remains devastated.

"His mom would give anything for him to walk through the door, yelling, 'Mama! Mama!' " Randy Johnson said.

Johnson's widow, Shante, and his son, Ben, made a pencil tracing of his plaque on the memorial. Ben wore his father's badge to the ceremony.

"It means a lot to us," Shante Johnson said. "It's a place where Ben and I can come back to as often as we want and honor his dad."


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