Semi driver fled, then turned around and hit, killed Santaquin officer, police say

Salem Police Chief Brad James, left, puts his arm around Santaquin Police Sgt. Mike Wall during a press conference Sunday after a Santaquin police officer was hit by a vehicle and killed.

Salem Police Chief Brad James, left, puts his arm around Santaquin Police Sgt. Mike Wall during a press conference Sunday after a Santaquin police officer was hit by a vehicle and killed. (Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

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SANTAQUIN โ€” Santaquin Police Lt. Mike Wall appeared to struggle to speak as he recalled the notification early Sunday that an officer from his department had been killed in the line of duty.

"Our entire department is hurt, and the family of the officer is hurt," he said, his voice breaking as officers flanked him, one with his arm around him supporting him.

"Because of a senseless act by one individual, we have family members who will miss their father at their nearing wedding. But I can assure you we as a police department will stand up, and we will be there, and we are one family," Wall said.

The lieutenant thanked community members who have helped during this tragic situation.

Just before 6 a.m., the Utah Highway Patrol's Richfield office received a call about a person standing on the back of a semitrailer as it drove north, Spanish Fork police said in a statement. About 6:30 a.m., the semitrailer was located by a Santaquin police officer and a UHP trooper, and they initiated a traffic stop.

"During the traffic stop, the driver of the semi fled and drove northbound a short distance before turning around and driving the wrong way back toward the Santaquin officer as well as the UHP trooper," Spanish Fork Police Lt. Cory Slaymaker said. The semitruck then hit the Santaquin officer and his vehicle, as well as the trooper's vehicle.

The Santaquin police officer died at the scene. His name has not yet been released.

Michael Aaron Jayne, 42
Michael Aaron Jayne, 42 (Photo: Utah Department of Public Safety)

The semitrailer driver ran away, and police believe he then stole multiple vehicles and made it several hundred miles away before Gov. Spencer Cox announced on social media he had been captured about 11:40 a.m. in Vernal. During the manhunt, residents of multiple cities were asked to shelter in place as officer searched for the suspected driver, 42-year-old Michael Aaron Jayne, who police said was considered possibly "armed and dangerous."

'A tragic day in the history of our state'

Provo Police Chief Troy Beebe announced a procession in honor of the officer as soon as the investigation concluded. The procession traveled along I-15 from Santaquin to the medical examiner's office in Taylorsville. Beebe invited community members to pay their respects to the officer along that route.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson later shared a photo on social media of a line of cars parked along a freeway overpass, and a woman standing in the road holding an American flag. Videos of the procession showed dozens of motorcycles and police cars winding along I-15 with their blue and red lights reflecting off the wet road.

"Every overpass in south Utah County looks like this. People lining up to pay their respects to the @SantaquinCity police officer killed in the line of duty this morning, as his ambulance and countless emergency vehicles proceed north on I 15," Henderson said.

"Today was a tragic day in the history of our state," Cox said during a news conference Sunday evening, noting that last week an annual event took place at the state Capitol honoring Utah's fallen officers. "Tragically, we will be adding another name to that memorial. We are fortunate to live in a country and in a state where we have so many dedicated law enforcement officers. Our hearts are broken and our thoughts, our prayers, are with the family, the widow of this hero and kids and all those who are, who have been impacted by this terrible and completely unnecessary tragedy."

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cameron Roden speaks during a press conference after a Santaquin police officer was hit by a vehicle and killed at Santaquin City Hall in Santaquin on Sunday.
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cameron Roden speaks during a press conference after a Santaquin police officer was hit by a vehicle and killed at Santaquin City Hall in Santaquin on Sunday. (Photo: Megan Nielsen, Deseret News)

He thanked all law enforcement officers in the state, including those who searched for the man "and so quickly were able to locate a person who had already traveled hundreds of miles and make sure that no one else was harmed by this evil and reckless individual. Grateful for those who pursued knowing that their lives would be in danger from someone who had already killed and would certainly kill again. Just grateful that we have that caliber of people who were willing to step up and make a tremendous difference," the governor said.

Hundreds of law enforcement and other first responders gathered for the officer's procession to the medical examiner's office, Cox noted. Thousands of residents all showed up, and he said they will continue "to pay tribute."

The Santaquin Police Department only has 15 members, "and so these tragedies hit even harder in such a small town," Cox said. "The family is devastated right now and trying to figure all of this out, but our Department of Public Safety will be working very closely with the family, the chief of police and the mayor as they put those (funeral) plans together."

He asked residents across the state to pray for the officer's family members.

"Someone made that ultimate sacrifice today," Cox said.

'Shelter in place' lifted after extensive search

After the officer was hit and the semitrailer driver fled, officials urged residents in surrounding cities to remain in their homes while officers searched for the man. One Payson resident told KSL he and others had been asked to watch doors of a church meetinghouse where services were underway as police nearby looked for the driver.

The Utah Department of Public Safety released an alert late Sunday morning that said police were looking for Jayne, who was described as white with unkempt brown hair, a beard, about 6 feet tall and 220 pounds. The alert said the man was possibly armed with a stolen firearm and driving a stolen extended cab long-bed Ford F-150 truck with a grill.

Jayne was found in Vernal and crashed after a "short pursuit," and he was then taken into custody, Slaymaker said.

I-15 was closed in both directions for several hours in south Utah County due to the police response. Southbound I-15 reopened in Santaquin just before 11:30 a.m., but northbound lanes remained closed until about 1:45 p.m., after the fallen Santaquin officer's car was towed away while rain fell on the freeway and officials continued to divert cars off northbound I-15. The semitrailer was towed off the freeway soon after.

Santaquin Mayor Dan Olsen thanked the community and neighboring police chiefs for their help in the response. He said it is a difficult day for their tight-knit, caring community.

"I want to assure the community that we have the best; we have incredible people that serve this community," he said.

Reports of driver's past incidents with police

In 2012, a man who appears to be the same person โ€” a Michael Aaron Jayne, then 30, who appears similar in photos โ€” led police on a high-speed chase through Barton County, Kansas, while he was wanted for probation violations, the Great Bend Tribune reported. He had been convicted of assaulting and threatening law enforcement officers in his native Redding, California, and in Oregon, according to the report.

Police in Kansas warned that Jayne should be considered armed and dangerous, and a stolen pickup truck had been recovered in connection to the search.

The outlet said that "Jayne is reported to have been willing to enter into high speed chases and cause accidents to avoid capture, as well as willing to invade homes. He has threatened to take lethal measures to avoid being taken back into custody." It said during the Oregon incident, Jayne attempted to run over an officer while Jayne was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

Oregon court records show that a Michael Aaron Jayne with the same birth year was arrested in 2009 and accused of attempting to commit murder in Oregon, along with two counts of possession of body armor as a felon and two counts of attempting to commit a felony. He pleaded guilty later that year to one count of possession of body armor and one count of attempting to commit felony, and was sentenced to 42 months in prison. The attempted murder charge was dismissed as part of a plea deal.

California court records show someone with the same name pleaded guilty on July 18, 2011, to resisting an executive officer, and pleaded no contest to three additional counts of resisting an officer and one count of battery on an officer, relating to incidents on multiple dates in 2008 and 2010. He was sentenced to eight months in prison for each charge. Multiple charges of threats to terrorize were dismissed as part of the same plea deal.

A search of Kansas online court records did not provide a history for Jayne.

Contributing: Alex Cabrero, Becky Bruce


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Emily Ashcraft joined as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.
Ashley Imlay is an evening news manager for A lifelong Utahn, Ashley has also worked as a reporter for the Deseret News and is a graduate of Dixie State University.


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