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Davis Journal

Law enforcement memorial honors fallen officers

Jun 03, 2021 02:37PM ● By Becky Ginos

FARMINGTON—Each day law enforcement officers walk out the door, leaving their families, not knowing if they will return that night. Some give the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect the community. Several of these officers were remembered at the Davis County Law Enforcement Memorial May 14.

“About four years ago my wife and I took a cruise that went from Florida to France,” said Centerville Police Chief Paul Child who spoke at the ceremony. “We stopped at Normandy and it was super touching to be there and observe the graves. I’ve also visited Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. It’s quite humbling. When I visited the National Peace Officer Memorial I made a point to look for the names of officers here in Utah.”

Child shared the stories of several officers whose names are on those walls and also a trooper whose name would have been if not for miraculous intervention. “I grew up in West Bountiful,” he said. “I would often pass a UHP Trooper who liked to sit on top of the Parrish Lane overpass. A couple of times I would stop to talk to him. I knew him as Trooper Ralph Evans but now as Nolan Evans. I want to thank Nolan for his example to me because he played a part in my life to ignite the law enforcement spark in me.”

On Oct. 7, 1978, a USAF surgeon was visiting his parents in northern Davis County and suddenly felt an urgent need to head to the airport for his flight home despite the fact it was very early for him to leave, said Child. “About the same time Trooper Evans came upon a 10-46 (stranded motorist assist). He thought it was strange when the man and his 13-year-old passenger refused to interact with him when he stopped to check on the stranded vehicle.”

As Trooper Evans started to leave, two women flagged him down and claimed the man in the stranded vehicle had assaulted them so he went back to investigate, Child said. “He found out the driver was drunk and that the 13-year-old passenger was his son. While Trooper Evans was arresting the driver, his son came out of the car with a gun and started shooting striking Trooper Evans in the head and the bullet travelled through his neck and left jaw, severing the carotid artery.”

Then the boy came closer and shot Evans in the lower back, he said. “As he lay dying on the side of the road, the USAF surgeon came onto the scene. He knew exactly what to do and reached into Evans’ neck and found the artery and pinched it off. The surgeon held onto the artery all the way to the hospital, saving Evans’ life.”

Child also paid tribute to Davis County officers killed in the line of duty:

• Donald P. Jensen, who was killed May 14, 1971 while assisting what he believed was a stranded motorist.

• George Dee Rees who died July 2, 1960 when his patrol vehicle was struck by a fleeing felon in a stolen car.

• Lt. Thomas Sumner Rettberg who was killed Feb. 11, 2000 when the OH-58 Bell helicopter he was piloting crashed during a routine maintenance flight.

• Officer Charles Benjamin Skinner who died Nov. 8, 2000 four days after his patrol car struck a patch of wet pavement, spun around and struck a business sign near 2300 South and Highway 89 in Woods Cross while he was pursuing a stolen vehicle.

“I wish to acknowledge those brave souls who have worn the badge of a lawman in Utah and have gone out each day accepting the risks and who have paid the ultimate price,” said Child. “I wish to honor and recognize those who stand behind each officer and prays for them that they will come home and of course tell those who have lost their loved one that we are so very sorry while being so very grateful for their sacrifice – we will never forget.”