Ogden • When Ogden police Officer Nathan Lyday was a fifth-grader, he wrote a poem about what the world would look like if he were in charge of it.
Recess would last longer, if he had his way. He wouldn't have to take his vitamins. Broccoli wouldn't exist anymore. Neither would bullies.
“He hated bullies,” Nathan Lyday’s mother, Nancy Lyday, recalled Saturday during her son’s funeral. “He was and always is the ultimate defender in life, in sports, in anything he did.”
It was while sticking up for other people that Nathan Lyday lost his life, his friends and relatives said. The 24-year-old officer was fatally shot as he was answering a 911 call from a terrified woman, who’d told authorities her husband threatened to kill her.
Hundreds of fellow law enforcement officers stood at attention and saluted Nathan Lyday’s flag-draped casket during Saturday’s ceremony, after Chief Randy Watt posthumously awarded his fallen officer a Police Star for “outstanding work involving great risk."
During the funeral at Ogden’s Lindquist Field, Nathan Lyday’s family and friends described him as a warm-hearted goofball who loved his family and his hometown. An American flag tied against the stadium wall billowed in the background as speakers addressed the crowd of about 1,500, which filled the stands and folding chairs spread across the baseball diamond.
Family photos that flashed across screens at the ceremony traced Nathan Lyday’s life from the time he was a child blowing bubbles and climbing trees. They captured him playing soccer, walking with his diploma on graduation day and marrying Ashley, his wife of five years. Saturday would’ve been their anniversary.
Andrew Lyday, his father, remembered that when his son was about six, they went to the airport together. It was before the 9/11 attacks, and people were still allowed to accompany their friends and family to the gate, he said.
As his son sent his rolling suitcase through the X-ray machine at the security check, a perplexed look crossed the face of the TSA agent watching the monitor, Andrew Lyday said.
“There’s nothing in that suitcase,” he recalls the agent saying.
“I said, ‘Yeah, I know. He’s not actually going anywhere. I am. He’s staying home. But he wanted to bring a suitcase to be a big guy like dad.'"
Years later, Nathan Lyday would put on a police uniform, like his father before him. The day of his death was exactly one year from the date he stood “so tall and proud” to swear in as an Ogden police officer, his father said.
Officer Dylan Aeschlimann talked about how Nathan Lyday had gone from being a colleague to his best friend during the year they worked together on the Ogden police force. Aeschlimann said he and Nathan Lyday liked to be each other’s backup on police calls and explained that the two were together on the day his friend was killed.
“On that Thursday, Nate saved countless lives to include my own, and I will forever be thankful for that,” Aeschlimann said. “This world lost a hero.”
Lydaywent to the Ogden home on the afternoon of May 28 after a woman called and said that her husband had beat her and threatened to kill her, according to a report from the Weber County Attorney’s Office.
He was the first officer to arrive and stood at the front porch talking to the uncooperative domestic violence suspect, John Coleman, through a glass storm door until a second officer arrived, the summary says.
As Nathan Lyday turned away to speak to the other officer, Coleman allegedly fired a rifle at Nathan Lyday through the glass storm door, killing him instantly, the summary states. The officer didn’t have time to draw his own gun or defend himself, but his colleague returned fire, as did a couple of parole agents who were also on the scene, according to the analysis.
Coleman was later found dead in the home, killed during the shootout with police, investigators believe.
At Saturday’s funeral, Gov. Gary Herbert said the community has been through some “dark days” in recent weeks and urged listeners to help one another through the difficulties that lie ahead.
“We have a responsibility and an opportunity to further the work of Officer Lyday. We should, in fact, bear one another’s burdens that they’d be made light,” he said. “We should, in fact, mourn with those who mourn. And we should, in fact, comfort those who stand in need of comfort.”
After the ceremony, a fire truck carried Nathan Lyday’s casket to Memorial Gardens of the Wasatch for a graveside service. A procession of police motorcycles led the way, while a fleet of cruisers followed — quietly but with blue lights flashing.
Nathan Lyday’s cruiser remained behind at the ball park, ringed by bouquets of flowers.