Utah's fallen officers honored with motorcycle ride

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Leaders of our state, one ambassador and hundreds of Harley riders took to the streets Sunday morning for the annual "Ride 4 Fallen Officers." It was part of a tribute to officers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

This is the third year Utah's fallen officers have been honored with the ride, which started in Lindon and ended at the State Capitol.

Utah's fallen officers honored with motorcycle ride

Rider Randy O'Hara said, "It's awesome hearing all these motorcycles start up at the same time and ride together, it's awesome."

"Bikers are very charitable people," explained Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

Even after crashing in this ride two years ago and breaking his leg, Shurtleff couldn't stay away.

Jon Huntsman Jr., U.S. ambassador to China
Jon Huntsman Jr., U.S. ambassador to China

"Now I'm in a Camero. They figure I can't crash that! Next year: two wheels!"

The bikers cruised I-15 to 4500 South and then took State Street to the Capitol. Officers blocked traffic, and a fire truck hoisted a huge American flag over head.

The group of bikers grows every year; each one of them riding for the 126 fallen officers who have died serving Utah.

Even former Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is now U.S. ambassador to China, rode. He had a relative who died in the line of duty in the 1920s.

"This brings together the two finest people I've met, riders and law enforcement families," Huntsman said.

Utah's fallen officers honored with motorcycle ride

This will be his last ride. He leaves for China on Monday.

After the ride, there was a ceremony at the new memorial for fallen officers on the west side of the Capitol. Many members of fallen officers rode, like Gary Koehn. He lost his son-in-law Charlie Skinner, a North Salt Lake police officer, last November in a car crash.

Koehn said, "It means a lot."

He said though his daughter and two kids miss him, he's proud of Skinner. "Even though he passed away, he died a hero," he said.

Skinner's name was the last to be added to this wall of fallen officers at the new memorial, hopefully another name won't soon follow.

Money raised from the last two rides paid for the memorial. The money raised from Sunday's ride will go toward an endowment to support families who have lost a loved one on duty and for their grave markers.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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