Golden eagle released carrying 7,000 prayers for 1st responders

Martin Tyner, CEO and founder of Southwest Wildlife Foundation, gets a rehabilitated golden eagle out of a cage to be released into the wild Friday after being rescued from near death a month ago. Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 19, 2016 | Photo by Austin Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – There is a common belief among native cultures that if one says a prayer with an eagle feather, the feather will carry the prayer to God.

Nanette Wride - Martin Tyner - Golden eagle release - StGeorgeNews.com
L-R: Nannette Wride, widow of fallen officer Cory Wride, and Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah founder and CEO Martin Tyner. Nannette Wride speaks at an eagle release Friday in honor of first responders. Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 19, 2016 | Photo by Austin Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

Nannette Wride, widow of slain Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Wride, released a golden eagle with more than 7,000 feathers back into the wild Friday – each feather transporting a prayer to the creator for the first responders dedicated to saving lives, she said before letting the bird go.


Cory Wride died after being shot by Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui on Jan. 30, 2014. The sergeant encountered Garcia and his girlfriend Megan Grunwald when he stopped to check on what he thought was a disabled pickup truck on the side of the road near Eagle Mountain. The couple covered about 50 miles that day in a crime rampage that also included the nonfatal shooting sheriff’s Deputy Greg Sherwood in the head. Garcia ultimately died after the rampage ended in a shootout with police. Grunwald was arrested and since convicted of numerous offenses including aggravated murder as an accomplice.


About 100 people showed up at the C Trail Overlook above Cedar City to see Nannette Wride release the bird that just a month ago was found on the edge of death approximately 20 miles west of town.

The founder and CEO of the Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah, Martin Tyner, rescued the eagle he said was “suffering from starvation and the summer’s oppressive heat.”

He transported the eagle to his rescue center where she received emergency care until she could recover and return to the wild.

Tyner is among a small number of state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitators who has been saving wildlife for nearly 40 years. In that time, he has released rehabilitated eagles before in honor of a person or organization in need of extra prayers.

Some of these have included families with a loved one with cancer, downwinders who are suffering symptoms due to being downwind of nuclear testing, troubled youth, women’s crisis centers and the National Guard.

Nanette Wride - Martin Tyner - Golden eagle release - StGeorgeNews.com
Martin Tyner, CEO and founder of Southwest Wildlife Foundation, hands off a golden eagle to Nannette Wride so she can release it back into the wild Friday after being rescued from near death a month ago. Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 19, 2016 | Photo Aug. 19, 2016 | Photo by Austin Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

One of the most memorable eagle releases was done in 2007 as a way to memorialize the victims of the Crandall Canyon Mine Collapse, Tyner said, where some of the bodies were never recovered for a traditional burial.

“That’s 7,000 eagle feathers and 7,000 prayers going out for those who need them,” Tyner said.

This time, Tyner chose to release the eagle in honor of first responders, specifically law enforcement, due to the violence he said is going on around the world and the increasing threats through both civil unrest and terrorism.

“We have lost too many of our brave and bravest,” Tyner said in an interview with Cedar City News. “Instead of running from danger, our first responders run directly toward it. They put their lives on the line every day to and risk their lives to save others, yet we are losing them. You can’t turn on the TV anymore without hearing about another cop shooting and another officer who has died.

Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams - CedarCityUtah.com
L-R: Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams, Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah founder and CEO Martin Tyner. Adams speaks at an eagle release Friday in honor of first responders. Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 19, 2016 | Photo by Austin Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

“There is nothing more healing than standing on top of the mountain and watching a beautiful eagle return to the sky and I believe our first responders need that healing and the prayers the eagle carries with her to the heavens.”

The first responders at Friday’s event said they were humbled to have the bird released in their honor and felt grateful to live in a community where there is overwhelming support.

“We’re appreciative so much for this event,” Cedar City Chief Darin Adams said. “Today in the environment we face and the assault on police and first responders, it is heartwarming for us to feel the support. In these turbulent times, we have received more and more kind gestures, kind words, gifts – overall expression of gratitude from our public. We are very blessed not only in Iron County but in the state of Utah to have such broad support and we are so appreciative.”

L-R: Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips, Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah founder and CEO Martin Tyner. Phillips speaks at an eagle release Friday in honor of first responders. Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 19, 2016 | Photo by Austin Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News
L-R: Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips, Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah founder and CEO Martin Tyner. Phillips speaks at an eagle release Friday in honor of first responders. Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 19, 2016 | Photo by Austin Sullivan, St. George News / Cedar City News

Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Phillips echoed Adams’ sentiments after the event:

“This is pretty awesome for them to support first responders and to release that eagle and the prayers that go along with it,” he said. “Like I said, we’re here to support our brothers in blue and to let them know we stand by them.”

For Nannette Wride, the opportunity to release the eagle into the wild was also amazing and very personal, she said, sharing an emotional story with the crowd about a dream she had after her husband died. She said:

“Right after my husband was shot and killed he came to me a lot in dreams, and in one of my dreams, he handed me a giant eagle and it walked up my arm and sat on my shoulder.

“And he told me the eagle would watch after me until I could be with him. So yesterday when I was asked to release the eagle today, I cried. I felt so humbled.

Utah County Sheriff's Sergeant Cory Wride, St. George, Utah, Jan. 30, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Utah County Sheriff's Office, St. George News
Sgt. Cory Wride, who was killed in the line of duty Jan. 30, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Utah County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

“It means so much to me. It feels like Cory is right here with me and like he’s watching over the families of the fallen. And the families of the fallen need the prayers that are offered up and believe me they feel them.”

Later while speaking with Cedar City News, Nannette Wride shared more of her feelings about the experience and her “deep love and respect” for the first responders.

“They (first responders) are the heroes. They stand on the front lines to protect us and help us when we are at our worst and without them, we would have utter chaos,” Nannette Wride said. “So while I held that eagle I just prayed to God, ‘please protect them and surround them with protection and your mercy and let people be good to them because without them we’re nothing.’”

Nannette Wride is the founder of the Blue Haven Foundation that sends widow mentors and child survivors to the families of the fallen for support and help in putting their lives back together after losing a loved one.

While Tyner said they aren’t able to accommodate every person or group who wishes to participate in an eagle release, those who are interested can email the foundation at swf@qwestoffice.net.

Ed. CORRECTION Aug. 21: This report initially incorrectly named Megan Grunwald as the shooter of Cory Wride. Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui shot Cory Wride; Grunwald was with him as an accomplice and later convicted of aggravated murder, among other charges.

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Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @tracie_sullivan

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

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4 Comments

  • digger August 20, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    So Cool!

  • .... August 20, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    That was a very touching moment. my condolences to the families of slain law enforcement officers. we should be so blessed to have these people protect the citizens of our communities. the State of Utah and the citizens are better for it. Praise the Lord !

  • Randomguy August 21, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Our first responders are very deserving of this kind of respect and recognition. What a great event. Just FYI, Meagan Grunwald did not shoot Cory Wride. It was her scumbag pedophile boyfriend.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic August 21, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      Ah, yes, Randomguy. Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui was the shooter and Grunwald was his accomplice. She was, accordingly, convicted of aggravated murder, among other things in May 2015. I have corrected the report and thank you for the nudge.

      ST. GEORGE NEWS
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

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