Sunday , April 08, 2018 - 4:30 AM
Sometimes it takes a hero to unite a community.
Or in this case, four heroes — the Kaysville police officers burned while trying to stop a suicidal man from setting himself on fire Thursday.
Utahns stand in awe of their courage, and as one, we hope and pray for their recovery.
Shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday, officers responded to a call about a suicidal person at a Chevron convenience store. They found a man in the bathroom who’d doused himself in gasoline.
Officers, aided by detectives and a school resource officer, began clearing the store and the parking lot. They had no time waste — the man had a lighter, said Police Chief Solomon Oberg, and a convenience store is an island of gas pumps and flammable materials.
“The man was trying to light himself on fire, and a couple of officers were trying to subdue him and take the lighter away from him,” Oberg told Mark Saal, a reporter for the Standard-Examiner. “At some point the man got his clothes to catch on fire, and subsequently it caught some of the officers on fire.”
One officer suffered severe burns on his back, legs and one arm. Oberg believes he slipped in a puddle of gasoline, which soaked his uniform.
The officer could need two weeks in the hospital, Oberg said Friday.
“He’s hurting,” Oberg said.
The fire flashed so violently that it burned the inside of one officer’s mouth. Yet even after extinguishing the flames, officers still struggled with the man to ensure he didn’t possess another lighter.
Altogether, ambulances took four officers to the hospital. Two others received treatment for smoke inhalation. All but the one badly burned officer were released Thursday evening.
The man who set himself on fire remained in critical condition Friday.
On a force of 27 officers, with many on spring break with their young families, losing four officers to injury could’ve crippled the department. But it didn’t.
Oberg said officers heard the 911 call and returned to duty, covering shifts for their injured colleagues.
Those four officers risked their lives to save a man in a mental health crisis — a crisis that threatened innocent bystanders. They are heroes.
As a community, we are grateful for their courage.
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