ST. GEORGE – A long procession of law enforcement vehicles provided escort from St. George into California Monday as the bodies of Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Arthur and his wife, Linda, two of seven hikers killed by a flash flood in Zion National Park last week, were driven home to their final resting place.
With lights flashing, representatives from Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George Police, Utah Highway Patrol and Arizona Department of Public Safety, along with the Ventura County Sheriff, two deputies and six bikes from the Utah Patriot Guard Riders escorted the white hearse, which was outfitted with the Ventura County Sheriff’s logo and encased the remains of the couple, left Spilsbury Mortuary for the six-and-a-half-hour drive to the couple’s hometown of Camarillo, California.
“It was a pretty somber experience,” Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms said, “there weren’t a lot of words spoken except to coordinate the movement of the patrol vehicles.”
Bottoms said it was an honor to assist the Ventura County and Washington County sheriffs offices in a small way, adding that it was nice to see the way so many people paused to pay their respects to Sgt. Arthur as the procession left St. George.
Not only was there an outpouring of support from local law enforcement agencies, Utah Patriot Guard Ride Captain Kent Hardman said, but from other agencies all along the route to California as well.
“Once we were going along,” Hardman said, “there was various exits where the local municipalities had sent – like at Beaver Dam Exit there was a fire truck and an ambulance there with their lights going and their drivers and patrons all saluting as the procession went by.”
As the procession approached Mesquite, Nevada, Hardman said, vehicles were again parked on both sides of the road as the escort crested the hill near the first exit going into Mesquite with those who stood waiting to honor and pay their respects to a man who had devoted 21 years of his life to public service.
The motorcade proceeded to Moapa Travel Plaza, approximately 20 miles north of Las Vegas, where the Utah Patriot Guard Riders handed the procession over to Nevada Patriot Guard Riders.
“I was with him until that point, and then I touched base with them afterwards,” Hardman said, “and they said that the handoffs went very well and said there was a great feeling and everybody had seen similar things the rest of the way where there was different agencies who … were standing on the exits showing their support as the procession went by.”
The procession proceeded from Moapa to the California border where they again changed the guard and California Patriot Guard Riders picked up the escort responsibility through California into Ventura.
Along the extra mile
One local authority made the decision to travel far past the Utah border, showing his respect for a fellow deputy. Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher traveled the full distance of the journey to the Arthurs’ hometown.
“He and one deputy in his vehicle went the whole way – they stayed with him and escorted him all the way home,” Hardman said, adding:
He had indicated that they were going to go all the way, and then when I was talking to the two officers from Ventura, they had told me that, you know, how impressed they were that he was going to make the trip all the way to Ventura with them.
- 7 Zion flood victims identified; Mesquite man among dead
- Families reflect on loved ones lost to Zion flash flood
- Sheriff’s sergeant identified among those killed in Zion flooding – regarding Steve Arthur
- Last of 7 canyoneers’ bodies found since flash flooding of Zion slot canyon
- Zion officials confirm 6th canyoneer body found; 1 still missing
- 18 found dead in 2 days in Washington County flash floods, 2 missing; new video
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