Hundreds of balloons released for officer killed in the line of duty

ST. GEORGE — Officers, their families and the community released hundreds of blue balloons in St. George in honor of Utah police officer Doug Barney, who was killed in the line of duty in Holladay Jan. 17.  The community came together at the St. George Police Department to show the fallen officer’s family that Southern Utah is standing with them during this time of loss.

Officers, families, friends, and others in the community attend the "Balloons to Heaven" event honoring fallen Unified Police Officer Doug Barney, held at the St. George Police Department, St. George, Utah, Jan. 27, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Officers, their families, friends, and others in the community attend the “Balloons to Heaven” event honoring fallen Unified Police Officer Doug Barney, held at the St. George Police Department, St. George, Utah, Jan. 27, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Almost 100 people showed their support Wednesday afternoon by bringing hundreds of blue balloons to be “released to heaven,” honoring Barney, an 18-year veteran of the Unified Police Department, who was killed during a traffic stop Jan. 17.

Event planners Erin Christensen and Karly Jo Thompson, both wives of police officers in St. George, decided after the loss of Barney to plan an event where balloons would be sent up in his honor.

“We decided the best thing we could do is to get Southern Utah together and send off some balloons to heaven,” event co-planner Karly Jo Thompson said.

The St. George community became involved and made donations for the event, and the number of donations surprised both Christensen and Thompson, as did the number of attendees arriving with balloons in hand.

“The public really came out; I thought it was just going to be the officers,” Christensen said, “and honestly, I didn’t think this many people would show up and be here.”

Blue balloons after release to honor fallen Unified Police Officer Doug Barney at "Balloons to Heaven" event held at the St. George Police Department, St. George, Utah, Jan. 27, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Blue balloons after release to honor fallen Unified Police Officer Doug Barney at “Balloons to Heaven” event held at the St. George Police Department, St. George, Utah, Jan. 27, 2016| Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The event opened with an invocation by David Nutter, the St. George Police Department chaplain. Nutter has been with the department for almost five years and his primary role is to attend traumatic events that occur in St. George and provide support to officers and detectives who respond to those scenes.

In addition, Nutter provides support to members of the community who have been affected by tragic loss, fatal accidents, suicides or other related incident.

“The city has really come together over a number of incidents,” Nutter said, “and it’s difficult to respond to those scenes, no matter how long you’ve been in the Police Department or how many scenes you’ve attended to.”

“I was happy to be asked to offer a prayer today,” he said.

Hundreds of blue balloons were released  just before 5 p.m., after paying silent tribute to Barney for the sacrifice that will never be forgotten.

A video of the event and release of balloons will be sent to Barney’s family.

Background

Unified police officers responded to a hit-and-run accident in the intersection of 4500 South and 2300 East in Holladay Jan. 17 just before 10 a.m. where a man and woman were observed fleeing from a BMW involved in the crash that caused serious injuries to the occupants in the other vehicle, according to a statement released by Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder during a news conference Sunday, covered by Fox 13 News. 

Photo courtesy of Unified Police Department, St. George News
Officer Douglas Barney | Photo courtesy of Unified Police Department, St. George News

Officer Barney was first to approach the couple to question them. The man, identified as 31-year-old Cory Lee Henderson, fired a single shot, striking the officer in the head. Gunfire then erupted as other officers approached Henderson, leaving 35-year law enforcement veteran officer Jon Richey injured after being struck at least three times, Winder said.

Henderson was shot and killed in the incident.

Both officers were transported to the hospital immediately after the shooting, where Barney died from his injuries a few hours later. Richey was in stable condition following surgery.

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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