MT. OLYMPUS, Utah (ABC 4 News) - The family of a fallen Utah Highway Patrol trooper is remembering him as an unselfish leader who dedicated his adult life to helping people.
Aaron Beesley fell to his death Saturday afternoon during a helicopter rescue operation. He helped save two teenagers who got stranded on Mount Olympus. After the rescue, Beesley fell off a 60-foot cliff while trying to retrieve his backpack.
"This trooper died in the line of duty while engaged in a heroic effort," said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder.
"For him to fall when it was just getting a bag makes me know it was his time to go," said Laretta Beesley, Aaron's mother. "I don't have to hate someone for shooting him or a car accident or something like that."
Beesley was just 34 years old and lived in Box Elder County. He leaves behind a wife and three young boys.
"He was one of the cornerstones in our family," said Erik Beesley, Aaron's brother.
"He was a great man," said Robert Beesley, Aaron's father. "He's still my son."
Deaths of troopers in the Utah Highway Patrol are rare. In the past 80 years, 15 troopers have lost their lives. Many of those died in traffic crashes or from gunshots. Beesley is the first trooper to die from a fall.
"It's been many years since we lost a trooper in this department," said Steve Winward with Utah Highway Patrol. "A lot of officers are taking this very hard."
This was not the first time Beesley saved lives while on the job. Earlier in his career, he gave CPR to a boy pulled from Willard Bay. He also provided first aid to a woman rescued from Moab. He had received the Medal of Excellence from UHP.
Beesley was also a computer whiz, who designed smartphone apps that would help troopers on the job. His apps allow them to do field sobriety tests and even get help flying helicopters.
Beesley worked for UHP for 13 years.