Ogden officer tries to lighten load

Jan 5 2011 - 12:15am

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NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Ogden Police Community Service Officer Tony Reyna poses for a portrait outside the Ogden Police Department on Tuesday. Reyna offered to pay for a burial plot for 5-year-old Harleighann Wilson, who was killed when the mobile home she lived in burned down in Clearfield on New Year’s Eve.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Ogden Police Community Service Officer Tony Reyna poses for a portrait outside the Ogden Police Department on Tuesday. Reyna offered to pay for a burial plot for 5-year-old Harleighann Wilson, who was killed when the mobile home she lived in burned down in Clearfield on New Year’s Eve.

CLEARFIELD -- During his law enforcement career, Ogden Police Community Service Officer Tony Reyna has seen the hurt a community suffers regarding the loss of a child.

It's that image, and the helpless feeling it conjures, that prompted him to try to lighten the burden of Jason and Frankie Wilson, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Harleighann Wilson to a Dec. 31 Clearfield mobile home fire believed to have originated in a clothes dryer.

"I offered them a burial plot," said Reyna, who made his offer to the Wilson family during the New Year's holiday weekend through the Clearfield Police Department, where his wife works as a dispatcher.

Reyna said he has a burial plot at Evergreen Memorial Park in Ogden, and he was willing to give the plot to the Wilson family. He said he would just buy another at a later date to fulfill his needs.

"They lost everything," he said of the fire that ripped through the Wilson's single-wide trailer on New Year's Eve morning, trapping their daughter inside and causing an estimated $50,000 in damages.

But on Monday, Reyna said he received a phone call from an appreciative Wilson family member who explained to him the family has relatives buried in Ogden City Cemetery, and they want Harleighann to be laid to rest there.

Memorial services for Harleighann will be held today at 1 p.m. at Myers Roy Mortuary, 5856 S. 1900 West, in Roy. A gathering for family and friends will be held prior to the service from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Interment will be in Ogden City Cemetery.

Myers Mortuary in Roy has waived most of the expenses associated with the funeral services, according to the emergency service director for the American Red Cross of Northern Utah.

The family has agreed to allow the American Red Cross, as the organization does with other victims, to pay the remainder of the funeral expenses, the official said.

But extending a hand to help families that have lost children or that have had a child in peril, is nothing new to Reyna, who recalls a time as a Clearfield officer, patrolling the Clearfield Mobile Home Park where the Wilson fire occurred.

"A lot of history there, good and bad," said Reyna, who retired from the Clearfield police more than a year ago after 25 years as a senior officer.

His close ties to helping children, and to Clearfield, Reyna said, compelled him to want to ease the pain in the Davis community by helping the Wilsons, particularly with the recent deaths of 4-year-old Ethan Stacy and the two Warhola children.

"You feel so helpless," he said. "There is nothing you can do."

Reyna also said having a grandson about the same age as Harleighann moved him to do something to relieve the stress of the Wilson family.

"Those parents will never have their little girl calling for them, sitting on their lap," Reyna said.

"I felt I had to do something, and this was an opportunity where I could," said Reyna, 52, whose career has included its own miraculous save, a 1986 incident for which the Clearfield officer was recognized, when he helped save the life of a small boy who fell through a glass table, cutting the jugular vein in his neck.

At the time, Reyna helped apply pressure to the wound, all the while directing, over the radio, a medical helicopter where to land in the neighborhood.

An account at Wells Fargo Bank has been established in the name of Harleighann Wilson, Clearfield City Manager Chris Hillman said.

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