LAYTON — People called Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Aaron R. Beesley a hero after he died in a rescue on Mount Olympus, but his mother knows that is only part of the story.
“Aaron is a hero, but he is not a hero from one rescue or three rescues. He was a hero every day,” Laretta Beesley, of Clearfield, said Saturday at her son’s funeral, a celebration of his life for family and friends.
The service, which included remarks by Gov. Gary R. Herbert, was followed by an American-flag lined procession from Northridge High School, where the service was held, to West Point Memorial Cemetery, where Beesley, an Ogden native and Bear River City resident, was laid to rest.
Beesley died June 30 while participating in a helicopter rescue of two hikers on Mount Olympus, east of Salt Lake City.
The 34-year-old member of the UHP search and rescue team fell 90 feet to his death while attempting to retrieve his medical bag on the mountainside after loading the hikers in the helicopter.
He was not the easiest child to raise, his mother recalled.
“Aaron was a handful,” a son who knew who he was from an early age, Laretta said.
As a teen, her son didn’t like taking orders. But she knew if she gave Aaron a choice, he would always do what was right.
She could never get her son to read novels, but he would read a vehicle’s owner’s manual.
“He was brilliant, and he didn’t even realize it,” Laretta said of her son’s knack for technology. He seemed able to make things work just by touching them.
His family — wife Kristie and their three sons — always came first, Laretta said.
While the mother set the tone for the service, Arik Beesley, also a Utah Highway Patrol trooper, mixed in humor while sharing memories of his older brother.
The two would play “The A-Team,” based on the television series, either in the family’s brown van or their bunk beds, Arik said. Aaron would always relegate him to the role of co-pilot.
“He watched the show. I preferred cartoons,” Arik said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
There were also the times when his brother wouldn’t make it to Sunday school on time, but instead would sit on the couch in the foyer following sacrament meeting and hold class of his own.
And then there was the time Arik won a BMX bike in a drawing, and his mother gave the bike to Aaron. The bike ended up getting stolen, Arik said, so their parents got Aaron an even better bike while Arik got a Huffy.
But Arik also spoke of the many doors his brother opened for him. He said he knows through his faith in God that he will be reunited with Aaron someday.
“Aaron loved what he did. Aaron was always helping people out. I can’t do justice for Aaron,” Arik said.
In offering remarks, the governor spoke of Utah values and how Aaron was someone who possessed those values.
The people of Utah should be careful never to take for granted the peace and serenity state law enforcement officers provide, Herbert said.
“There are sacrifices asked, there are sacrifices given. I suggest to all of us that we don’t forget.”
One way of doing that, Herbert said, is using Beesley’s example to lift us all up to be better people.
“When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God,” the governor said, citing scripture from the Book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon.
Others speaking at the service included Aaron’s father-in-law, Kelly Dyer, as well as fellow Utah Highway Patrol trooper, Lt. Lee Perry.
Perry told of witnessing — numerous times — his longtime friend coming to the aid of others when responding to emergency calls.
Dyer spoke of how, when people ask what they can do for a family that has lost a loved one, the response needs to be: “Hug those close to you and tell them that you love them.”