Trooper Dennis Lund
After experiencing problems with the law in Indiana, Jason Scott Pearson, age 18, and George Todd Kennedy, age 16, headed west in Kennedy’s mother’s red Ford Thunderbird and with a car stereo that they planned to pawn for money. By the time they reached Utah, they were out of money and out of gas. On June 16, 1993, they stopped for fuel at the Roger’s Roost, Phillips 66 in Thompson, Utah. After pumping $21.30 in fuel, the two thieves left without paying. Within minutes, an attempt to locate (ATL) was broadcast by Price DPS Communications Center. Grand County Deputy Sheriff Steve Brownell first saw the wanted vehicle westbound on Interstate 70 at milepost 173. When he attempted to stop the vehicle, the suspects accelerated to 95 mph. Deputy Brownell requested assistance from the Utah Highway Patrol.
Trooper Kelly Roberts had just arrived in Green River for a special enforcement assignment. Sergeant Steve Rapich was talking with Trooper Roberts when the call for assistance was broadcast. Troopers Richard Haycock, Bruce Riches, and Dennis “Dee” Lund and Emery County Deputy Sheriff Guy Webster also responded. Deputy Webster blocked the east interchange of State Road 19 and Interstate 70, to prevent the suspects from entering Green River. Trooper Lund and Trooper Riches deployed tire deflating devices, commonly referred to as roadblock spikes, at the west interchange, in an attempt to safely terminate the pursuit.
At this point, Price dispatch confirmed that the vehicle was stolen from Indiana. On approach to the roadblock spikes, the thieves drove through the center divider and into the eastbound lanes. For the next three miles the suspects continued to drive westbound in the eastbound lanes. Speeds of the chase were approximately 80 mph, with officers driving in the correct, westbound lanes and the suspects driving westbound in the eastbound lanes.
At the interchange of State Road 6 and Interstate 70, the suspect vehicle took the off ramp, in the wrong direction, and attempted to go northeast on State Road 6. Deputy Webster saw the stolen vehicle make this evasive move and immediately took the exit in front of the bandits. The vehicle made an abrupt U-turn and again entered Interstate 70 westbound in the westbound lanes.
The stolen vehicle again accelerated to 80 mph. Knowing there were no officers ahead of the stolen vehicle for over 70 miles which could deploy spikes, Sergeant Rapich instructed Trooper Lund to pass the suspects if the opportunity presented itself. As Trooper Lund passed the suspect vehicle, passenger George Kennedy stuck the barrel of a 20 gauge shotgun out the side window and fired. The round struck the right side of Trooper Lund’s patrol car, a Ford Mustang, shattering the rear window. Kennedy then fired two rounds into Trooper Riches’ patrol car.
This act of violence was the first indication that the suspects were armed. The officers knew that these actions by the suspects moved the escalation of force several steps up the force continuum. Sergeant Rapich then ordered Trooper Lund to accelerate well ahead of the suspects, deploy himself by the side of the road, and attempt to shoot out a tire on the stolen vehicle as it passed.
Trooper Lund accelerated ahead of the suspects and parked in the emergency lane. He exited his patrol car with his 12 gauge Remington 870 shotgun. Using his patrol car as a shield, Trooper Lund awaited the approach of the felony suspects who had just tried to kill him. As ordered, his intentions were only to shoot out the tires of the stolen vehicle. As theThunderbird approached, again the 20 gauge shotgun was fired at
Trooper Lund, striking the rear of his Mustang. Trooper Lund returned fire, striking the rear of the stolen vehicle and causing little damage. After the pursuing officers passed, Trooper Lund again joined the pursuit.
Trooper Riches was on the inside lane, Trooper Haycock on the outside lane, and Trooper Lund was following Trooper Haycock. Again the passenger leaned out the window and fired upon the troopers. To this point, all of the rounds fired by the suspects had been from a 20 gauge shotgun. Pearson retrieved a semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle and while Kennedy steered the vehicle from the passenger position. Pearson then opened fire on the pursing troopers with the rifle. Firing in rapid succession, rounds from the rifle struck Trooper Haycock’s, Trooper Riches’, and Trooper Lund’s vehicles. One of the rounds fired by Pearson struck the left side of the windshield on Trooper Lund’s patrol car. The round entered the windshield and was deflected by the door post, striking Dee Lund in the left eye. Trooper Lund immediately hit the brakes, ran off the right side of the road, and radioed that he had been hit.
Sergeant Steve Rapich, who was riding with Trooper Kelly Roberts, had attempted to remove the 12 gauge shotgun from the back seat zippered pouch. Finding the zipper stuck, Sergeant Rapich cut the pouch with a pocket knife and removed the shotgun. After instructing Trooper Roberts to move into position, Sergeant Rapich chambered a rifle slug and fired at the suspect vehicle’s tires. The second rifle slug fired struck the left rear tire. The stolen vehicle skidded off the left side of the road and rolled.
Deputy Webster saw Trooper Lund’s vehicle skid off the roadway and into the dirt. As he ran to the Mustang, he saw Trooper Lund sitting in the driver’s seat with his head tilted back against the head rest. Blood was streaming from his left eye. Deputy Webster opened the driver’s door and asked Trooper Lund if he was okay. He got no response. He felt for a pulse and there was none. He checked for respiration and again there was none. Deputy Webster dragged Trooper Lund from the patrol car and immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). His valiant efforts were futile; Trooper “Dee” Lund, age 37, was dead.
Brenda Lund, wife of Trooper “Dee” Lund, and her 8 year old son, Jared, had listened intently to the police scanner in their Green River home as the chase proceeded along Interstate 70. She had heard that an officer had been shot. Brenda and Jared had knelt in prayer for Dee’s safety. She was then dispatched to the scene as a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT). She responded to the scene and learned of the fatal shooting.
Pearson and Kennedy were taken into custody and transported to Castle View Hospital for treatment of minor injuries sustained in the crash. They were charged with capital murder as adults. Charges against the younger Kennedy were later reduced in exchange for his guilty plea and testimony against Pearson. Kennedy pled guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder on July 26, 1994. Two years following the death of Trooper Lund, Pearson was found guilty of aggravated murder, a capital offense, and other offenses on June 30, 1995. He was sentenced July 3, 1995, to life in prison with the possibility of parole by Seventh District Judge Bruce Halliday.
Trooper “Dee” Lund was buried in the West Weber Cemetery next to his son, Lyle, who died when he was nine days old. Brenda Lund moved to South Weber where she continues to raise her children, Tina and Jared.