Bryan Burr, brother-in-law of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, died after being struck by an air drop of straw mulch onto a southern Utah wildfire burn scar restoration and reseeding area.
Iron County Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser confirmed Monday that it was Burr, 58, of Alpine, who was hit by the load of mulch about 1:20 p.m. Friday at a remote location within this summer’s Brian Head Fire.
A call to Lee’s office seeking comment was not immediately returned Monday, but Barry Johnson, a family friend and spokesman, said that Burr was working with a Mountain West Helicopter crew at the time of the accident, near the Scout Camp site, near State Route 143.
Burr was the brother of Sharon Lee, the senator’s wife. In addition to her, he is survived by his wife, Natalie, and six adult children and 17 grandchildren.
Johnson said Burr was known for his willingness to volunteer, not only in the reseeding project that claimed his life, but helping fight flooding in his hometown of Alpine earlier this year.
“A lot of people don‘t know that Bryan also was a quiet supporter of LDS missionaries. He would find out that someone had been called on a mission and he’d call a connection of his at Mr. Mac [a local clothing outlet] and say, ‘So-and-so is coming down [to get missionary suits], just put it on my tab.”
Added Johnson: “he was a remarkable father and husband, and example of selfless service every day of his life.”
Schlosser said that Burr was working on the ground, spotting drop spots for the mulch-laden helicopter above when the accident occurred. The incident are being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board; the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting an autopsy to determine an official cause of death.
It was the pilot, noticing that Burr had been struck and was down, who called for help. Deputies and medical personnel rushed to the scene, where Burr was pronounced dead.
Initial indications were that Burr had “likely died as a result of blunt force trauma from falling debris during the airdrop,” the sheriff’s office stated.
Funeral arrangements were pending.