LAYTON — A Layton man, who is a high-ranking Utah Democratic Party official and a state labor leader, was declared brain dead Thursday following a motorcycle accident in Montana.
Jim Judd, 60, vice chairman of the state Democratic Party and president of the Utah AFL-CIO, was injured in the 8:20 a.m. crash on Interstate 15 south of Dillon, Mont., said Trooper Mitch Voss of the Montana Highway Patrol.
Judd was traveling alone on a 2001 Harley-Davidson when his motorcycle drifted off the highway to the left and into the median, Voss said. He tried to get back on the highway, which caused the motorcycle to roll.
Judd, an experienced motorcyclist, wasn’t wearing a helmet, Voss said.
“I believe a helmet would have made the difference,” the trooper said in a phone interview Thursday night.
At the time of the crash, Judd was apparently returning to Utah from an International Association of Fire Fighters motorcycle rally in Butte, Mont. Judd was airlifted to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont., but was declared brain dead.
Judd is a retired Ogden Fire Department battalion chief who had more than 20 years of service, said Fire Chief Mike Mathieu.
“He’s a great guy and gave his life to fire service,” Mathieu said Thursday night. “He had a great affiliation with the fire service and worked with the state legislature on firefighter issues. He always had the best interest of firefighters at heart. Not only did I consider him a friend, I considered him a professional colleague who will be deeply missed.”
Judd was elected vice chairman of the Utah Democratic Party in 2011.
Officials with the Utah Democratic Party expressed sorrow about Judd’s apparently imminent death.
“It is with heavy hearts that we confirm reports that Jim has sustained severe injuries in a motorcycle accident in Montana, and is likely not to recover,” the statement reads.
“Jim had an immeasurable impact on our state, and his loss will be felt by all who have met him. Jim was not one to trumpet his own accomplishments, so it falls to us on this sad day to share a bit about the extraordinary man we are losing.
“As president of the Utah AFL-CIO and vice chairman of the Utah State Democratic Party, Jim often spoke of being inspired by his family, particularly his sixteen grandchildren, to make Utah a better place and stand up on behalf of Utah’s working families. He was a leader, famous for his wise words, distinctive mustache, and his fantastic sense of humor. He was a great mentor, and many within the labor community and the Democratic Party have deeply valued the time they spent with him.
“He was an inspiring leader, a giver of great advice, a gifted public speaker, and someone we could always count on for a measured and wise response. He thought before he spoke, an increasing rarity in an era of quick-flash sound bites, and he never lost sight of what was important.”
Since 2007 Judd has served as president of the Utah AFL-CIO and was recently elected for another four year term. Late Thursday night, officials of the AFL-CIO said in a statement that the organization sends out its heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Judd's family and friends. "He was our beloved leader, " the statement reads, "who has made a difference in the lives of his co-workers and all workers across Utah."
Judd also served as president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Utah from 1985 to 2011 and was a member of the adjunct faculty for fire sciences at Utah Valley State College from 1992 to 2007.