- “It’s important to me that they know the tremendous impact they’ve had on my life.” – September 8, 2020
- “They were very kind. I say thank you to each one of them.” – September 19, 2020
- “Trooper Thompson was a professional and as courteous as any officer that has pulled me over before” – September 17, 2020
- “I’m sure he personifies the high level of character and training of all UHP troopers” – September 8, 2020
- “Trooper Johnson was kind, helpful, and reassuring” – September 8, 2020
September 8, 2020
Pilot Brett Hutchings and Tactical Flight Officer Trooper L. Middaugh, DPS Aero Bureau
“I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to your department. On September 8, 2020, I found myself stranded in an unexpected blizzard in the Uinta Mountains just southwest of Kings Peak. I was hiking on the Highline Trail when the temperatures dropped more than 60 degrees overnight and high winds and several feet of unexpected snow made it impossible to proceed.
After more than 12 hours of trying to ride out the storm, while my tent repeatedly collapsed on me and the snow began to drench my sleeping bag, I knew I was facing a potentially fatal outcome. And so, I reluctantly pressed the SOS feature on my Garmin lnReach to trigger a rescue from the backcountry.
The emergency response personnel forwarded me to Deputy Jeff Kearney, the Search and Rescue (SAR) Coordinator for the Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office. Upon learning the details of my situation, Deputy Kearney coordinated with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Aero Bureau to assist in getting me out of the backcountry alive. Unfortunately, the high winds, heavy snow, and altitude did not make my recovery straight-forward or easy. The first attempt to fly in and get me was unsuccessful.
In the early hours of September 9, 2020, a short weather reprieve allowed the Pilot Brett Hutchins and TFO Trooper Landon Middaugh to make their second helicopter rescue attempt. With the assistance of Deputy Kearney, they successfully located me and landed their helicopter in a snowstorm at 11,200′ elevation.
Upon their arrival, TFO Trooper Middaugh boldly waded through knee-high snow drifts to come recover me and get me safely onto the rescue helicopter. He then made sure I was covered in a warm blanket and strapped safely into the seat as I didn’t have enough feeling in my frozen hands to buckle myself in. After I removed my frozen gloves in the air, Mr. Hutchins handed over his own warm, dry gloves for me to wear until we landed and the EMTs took over my care. These selfless gestures meant so very much to me and demonstrate the very character of these two men.
I was then taken to Park City Hospital, where I was treated for hypothermia and injuries to my hands and feet, before being finally reunited with my family. It is largely thanks to the continuous and steadfast efforts of Deputy Kearney, Mr. Hutchins, and TFO Trooper Middaugh that that my physical injuries were temporary, not permanent or fatal.
No one ever wants to find themselves in a situation that requires a heroic rescue like this. Yet, I am grateful I was in northern Utah when this unfortunate incident occurred. Not every state has the SAR capabilities or experience to affect this type of successful outcome.
As an Army veteran who served my country on active duty for 21 years, I know that well-trained personnel and adequate resources are often the key difference between a mission’s success and failure. I am sending the attached letter about this event to Governor Herbert’s office so he knows what a massive contribution your department made in this rescue. Without exceptionally dedicated personnel like Mr. Hutchins and TFO Trooper Middaugh, I suspect I would not be here to write these words today.
Please feel free to use this letter as an example of the exemplary value the Aero Bureau brings to the community. I know in these challenging times, finding financial support for programs can be difficult. Budgets are often threatened, and smaller programs and special units are constantly being evaluated for their viability. And yet, my own favorable outcome attests how truly critical these experienced pilots and tactical flight officers really are.
Although I have already been in contact with Deputy Kearney to express my gratitude, I ask that you please forward my deepest thanks to Mr. Hutchings and TFO Trooper Middaugh. It’s important to me that they know the tremendous impact they’ve had on my life. Their dedication to duty saved a military combat veteran, a mother, and wife from imminent peril.” – P. Matiskella
Troopers Neerings, S. Rodriguez and Agin, Summit County
“I would like to compliment three Troopers who responded to an accident in a parking lot in Park City, Utah, Saturday, September 19. I would like to say thank you to the three Troopers. They were very kind. One of them gave me a bottle of water to help get myself settled down. They could see I was quite shaken by the accident my vehicle caused. I would like to say they portray themselves as to like the work they do in these challenging times. I say thank you to each one of them.” – L. Kralovec
September 17, 2020
Trooper J. Thompson, Salt Lake County
“I was recently pulled over for speeding on 215 on the way to dinner with customers near Salt Lake City by Trooper Jon Thompson (Badge ID: 530) while in town on business. I was undoubtedly speeding on your well maintained and wide-open interstate (you make it too easy) and he got me and my lead foot hands down, not my first time :). Trooper Thompson was a professional and as courteous as any officer that has pulled me over before. While I am not thrilled to hand over my hard-earned $130 to the Taylorsville Justice Court, I am more than happy to give my compliments and appreciation to Trooper Thompson and the rest of the UHP for keeping us safe despite my ‘minor transgressions.'” – M. Nichols
September 8, 2020
Trooper Dively, Duchesne County
“I really just wanted to send this message to compliment Trooper Glen Dively Badge No. 561 who issued me a citation on 8/29. This officer was courteous, respectful, fair, and just overall professional in his interaction with me and my family and I’m sure he personifies the high level of character and training of all UHP troopers and I just wanted to let somebody know what a tremendous asset this officer is to our community. Thanks for all you guys do.” – N. Hardy
September 8, 2020
Trooper M. Johnson, Utah County
“Just wanted to thank Trooper Meagan Johnson badge 459 and the incident management who assisted her call. She helped my wife on September 8th responding to her accident. My wife was pretty shook up and Trooper Johnson was kind, helpful, and reassuring even as my wife was at fault. Thank you both for being prompt and capable to ensure my wife’s safety.” – S. Staheli