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Behind the Badge: Utah State Parks Ranger Sierra Schaefer is a real lifesaver


WALLSBURG, Utah (ABC4 News) – Ranger Sierra Schaefer has always been courteous and helpful to visitors at Sand Hollow and Deer Creek State Parks but in the last few weeks, she’s been a real lifesaver.

The 23-year-old was probably destined to work in the great outdoors when the parents named her “Sierra”.

“My Dad claims though that when he was on his way to the hospital he saw a Sierra Mist can rolling around on the ground,” she told Behind the Badge. “And that’s how he got my name.”

The Roy native and Southern Utah University graduate is friendly and petite but also a gun-packing sworn officer of the law.

She patrols the land and water at Deer Creek State Park where a few weeks ago she was the first to arrive on a heart-stopping scene. A distraught young man was sitting on the edge of the Highway 189 bridge on the west end of Deer Creek Reservoir, his legs dangling 200 feet above the spillway as he contemplated suicide.

“I knew that this guy didn’t want to do it and I just needed to be able to talk to him so I could get him down,” Ranger Schaefer said. “We actually ended up having a lot in common. We’re the same age. We have siblings at the same age. We like some of the same things so I’m glad I was able to get that bond with him.”

She showed us the spot where she waved other officers back and talked to the man for an hour.
“I asked if he had lived here his whole life and he seemed kind of disappointed about that,” Ranger Schaefer said. “So I was like ‘Where in the world would you go right now if you could go anywhere in the world?’ and I don’t know if that finally got to him or if he just got annoyed with me but that’s when he got off the bridge and he said ‘You know what’ and just got down.”

He then agreed to get the help he needed. On another day around that same time, Ranger Schaefer heard a different kind of distress call: two swimmers were in big trouble when a sudden windstorm hit the reservoir. She got in her boat and raced to Rainbow Bay.

“They were starting to go under as I pulled up to them. I got lifejackets out, threw them to them and had them put them on. They were telling me they couldn’t do it anymore,” Schaefer recalled. “So I pulled them to the back of the boat and was able to pull them both into my boat using all my body weight to get ’em in.”

They were checked out by medical personnel and released but Ranger Schaefer’s adventures weren’t over. This past Saturday, July 25th, she rushed to assist Utah Highway Patrol troopers.

“Highway Patrol got called to a woman who was laying in the middle of Highway 40 by Daniels Summit, holding her child,” Ranger Schaefer said. “She was having a mental episode and was surrounded by other people but wouldn’t get out of the road…I ended up sitting on the ground and talking to her and her child for a couple of hours.”

Finally, she convinced the woman to release her child and get out of the roadway. Two more people who are still alive today thanks to Ranger Schaefer.

“I seem to be at the right place at the right time lately,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I’m a hero I’m just here doing my job trying to help people.”

Despite saving five lives in the past few weeks, Ranger Schaefer’s most memorable moment of 2020 will happen next month…when she and her fiancee tie the knot in an outdoor wedding.

Emily Florez
Rick Aaron, has more than 24 years of experience in television news as an anchor, reporter and producer. Originally from Mississippi, Rick graduated with honors from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and began working at KTTV Fox 11 in Los Angeles.
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