Utah officer falls to death during rescue effort

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Associated Press

Posted on July 1, 2012 at 4:02 AM

Updated Sunday, Jul 1 at 4:33 AM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah Highway Patrol trooper has fallen to his death in a search and rescue mission near Salt Lake City.

Sheriff Jim Winder of the Unified Police says Aaron Beesley fell from a 90-foot cliff Saturday during the rescue of two stranded teenage hikers on Mount Olympus.

No one saw the fall that killed the 13-year Patrol veteran.

Winder says a rescue helicopter located the hikers and carried them to safety, while the 34-year-old Beesley was left behind on the ground.

The helicopter returned but was unable to locate the trooper. Winder told reporters at a news conference late Saturday night that searchers found him a short while later at the bottom of the cliff.

Officials say Beesley apparently was trying to retrieve his backpack when he lost his footing and plunged to his death.

Winder says married father of three children "died in the line of duty while engaged in a heroic effort."

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