DAGGETT COUNTY, Utah (News4Utah) – A former officer has died in a swimming accident in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir Sunday, according to officials.
Officials with the Daggett County Sheriff’s Office said they were dispatched to Cedar Springs Marina just after 2 p.m. where they say an adult male had been swimming.
The man was found unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.
Monday morning authorities at the Unified Police Department confirmed the victim was one of their retired officers and a former South Salt Lake police sergeant. He has been identified as Mikal (Mik) Wersland.
“Despite the best efforts of those on scene, including a member of Unified Police Department, Mik was not able to survive. Our deepest condolences and prayers are with his family and friends,” Sheriff Rosie Rivera said in a statement sent to News4Utah.
Sheriff Rivera says Wersland was a member of UPD SWAT team for years. “He was known as one of the best,” she said. “He will be greatly missed.”
In 2015, Wersland appeared in a news story with ABC4. He decided to help a veteran who had his wheelchair stolen. He raised funds to purchase a new wheelchair and got the veteran back on his feet.
“I’ve been doing this for twenty years and I’ve never experienced anything like this,” a choked up Wersland told News 4 Utah.
Sheriff Rosie Rivera of Salt Lake County remembered that even involving the veteran from Taylorsville.
“That’s the kind of guy he was,” Sheriff Rivers said. “(He was) just very caring for the community and also for his fellow brothers and sisters in law enforcement.”
Wersland retired about a year ago and started his own business.
Years ago, Beau Babka then a captain with South Salt Lake police hired him and they’ve remained friends since.
“We’re close,” Babka said. “We’ve kind of become more closer in the last six months because of some business dealings. But i’m devastated. There’s not a finer man, not a better cop.”
According to the sheriff, Wersland jumped from a boat and tried swimming to the shore. But he didn’t make it.
“There were some people there,” Sheriff Rivers said. “They put him on a boat and took him to the marina in Cedar Springs.”
She says a sargeant with Unified Police happened to be at the marina and tried giving him CPR.
“That officer is heartbroken,” the sheriff said. “(It’s) just a heartbreaking thing for our department.”