Family of park ranger 'stunned' he was involved in shooting

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If there's anyone who can make it through this, it's Brody. We're all thinking of him right now.

–Deena Loyola

SALT LAKE CITY -- The family of a park ranger, shot and critically injured near Moab Friday, is struggling to understand why someone would want to hurt their loved one.

State Parks and Recreation Law Enforcement officer Brody Young, 34, and his wife, Wendy Young, live in Moab and have three children -- all under the age of six. He has worked for the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation for four-and-a-half years, according to spokeswoman Deena Loyola.

The Youngs have family and friends across the country -- many of whom are rushing to Colorado to be with the couple. David Nordquist, Young's brother-in-law, says it's rare to catch Young without a smile on his face.


"He's the nicest guy you'll ever meet," he told KSL Saturday.

Nordquist says the couple both worked as river guides for several years in Moab. Brody's job as a river ranger was a dream come true. "He loves his job passionately," said Nordquist.

David Nordquist, Brody Young's brother-in-law
David Nordquist, Brody Young's brother-in-law

Brody was shot at three times, in the arm, leg and stomach area, after he stopped a vehicle at the Poison Spider Mesa trail head Friday night. Though he was wearing a bullet-proof vest at the time, he was critically injured.

He was in surgery through the night and remains in critical, but stable condition. Family and friends say he's not out of the woods yet.

"He needs everybody's prayers," said Nordquist. "He needs everybody's help."

"We were told by doctors that they have an excellent team working on him, so we're just hopeful that he'll be alright," Brody's step-mother, Micheline Young said Saturday.

He's a wonderful guy, so upbeat and social. He's friendly to everyone... He was always part of team.

–Micheline Young

Loyola is confident he'll pull through. "If there's anyone who can make it through this, it's Brody," she said. "We're all thinking of him right now."

Micheline Young says she doesn't understand how this happened. "He's just not abrupt," she said. "He would never irritate someone to this point." When he graduated from the police academy several years ago, she said Brody was chosen to give a speech to his classmates.

"He's a wonderful guy, so upbeat and social. He's friendly to everyone," Micheline Young said, adding that with his job, he's been in scary situations before, "but never alone. He was always part of team."

Loyola says besides river patrol -- helping boaters and checking to see if people have permits -- Brody is also very active with the search and rescue team. While rangers are spread throughout the state, hundreds of miles apart, they're still a very close-knit group.

"I think we're a little bit in shock," Loyola said. "We've never had anything like this happen. He's one of our own."

Brody's father, wife and at least one sister were with him at the hospital Saturday. LDS ward members were helping to watch the children, Micheline Young said.

Meanwhile, the search for the man who shot Young has been scaled back for the night.


Story compiled with contributions from Sarah Dallof and Wendy Leonard.

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