Saturday’s second annual Fallen Peace Officer Trail Ride begins at 9 a.m. at the Fallen Peace Officer Trailhead 12 miles north of Moab, Utah at milepost 141, hwy 191 said Del Schlosser, Utah Peace Officers Association president.
Schlosser said that each of the 14 miles along the trail will represent an different officer who has died either in the line of duty or as a result of work they did while working in public service as a peace officer. He said that the trail ride also pays homage to officers who have been injured in the field and returned to work later.
Schlosser said that officers Trent Halladay and Sgt G. Scott Hathcock’s deaths both had close correlations with their duties in the field, but they did not meet the criteria for acknowledgement in the state capital.
“Sgt Hathcock died due to a heart attack,” he said. “He made a traffic stop, walked up to a car, and dies of that heart attack.
“Under the rules to the memorial in Salt Lake you have to be engaged, or recently engaged in a activity that causes a heart attack, but, because he did die in the line of duty, or duty related activities we have chosen to acknowledge that,” he added.
Schlosser said that Halladay passed away from cancer that many believe was caused by the years of exposure to raw meth lab materials without protective gear during the time he spent as a Provo narcotics officer.
“He was exposed to those chemical dangers,” he said. “It has to be shown by doctors that his cancer was directly related to that, and it’s tough.”
According to a press release the 14 officers being recognized passed away anywhere from 1883 to as recent as 2008, and served all over the state of Utah. It went on to say that is was not how the officers died that made them heroes, but rather the way that they lived their lives.
Schlosser said the event started with Ride With Respect out of Moab, Utah. He said members of the group had approached Utah State Park Ranger Brody Young who was shot nine times in the line of duty in 2010 and lived about dedicating the trailhead to him in honor of all that he had been through.
“It was pretty big news,” he said. “The suspect had fled and has not been apprehended as of yet.
“By all accounts, he shouldn’t have lived,” he added.
He said that Young, “being the humble man that he is” resisted the honor asking the group to instead dedicate the trail to honor officers who had actually fallen in the line of duty.
In all, Schlosser said there are 137 police officers in Utah who have died in the line of duty. He said they honor 14 every year, because that is how many miles the trail is, so they choose one officer to represent each mile.
According to the website found at www.upoa.org the event will kick off with a memorial ceremony at 9 a.m., and the dedication will only be open to pedestrian traffic. The 14-mile loop trail that borders Arches National Park is classified as moderately difficult.
“We invite everyone to bring your off-highway vehicle to the event,” it reported.
Schlosser said that there are places in Moab where off-road vehicles can be rented for those who do not have their own.
Preregistration is now closed, but interested parties can register at mile marker 139 hwy 191. There will be a shuttle available to cover the two miles between registration and the trailhead.
Schlosser said proceeds from the event pay for the markers that are placed at each mile to honor each fallen officer, and the leftover funds cover costs of hotels and food for the family members of each officer who is being honored.
More information is available at www.upoa.org