Family, Friends Cope With Forensics Director's Death

Family, Friends Cope With Forensics Director's Death

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News Specialist Karen Scullin reportingWest Valley City is mourning the sudden loss of one of its forensic experts.

Thirty-eight-year-old Scott Spjut died last night after an accidental shooting in the forensic unit of the police department.

Spjut was examining a rifle for fingerprints when it accidentally went off.

Clearly, it was a very tough day around the West Valley City Hall. Counselors were brought in to help Scott Spjut's co-workers deal with the shock of losing someone they truly cared about and respected.

"There's going to be an empty spot because he made the unit. He's the one who made the organization what it is today," says James May, a forensic investigator with West Valley City.

A horrible accident yesterday leaves Scott Spjut's friends and family struggling with his sudden death.

Spjut accidentally shot himself at work while examining a rifle for fingerprints. He was pleased because he had just discovered crucial evidence.

"Scott had actually shown him one of the fingerprints he actually lifted from this weapon," says assistant police chief Craig Gibson.

It's not known why the gun was loaded, or how Spjut could have accidentally pulled the trigger, but investigators do say it wouldn't have taken much for the inexpensive rifle to go off.

"You can bump a semi-automatic gun, you can drop it, you can let it hit the ground. Those things can go off," Gibson says.

Spjut was the director of the forensic unit. He was known around the world for his accomplishments and expertise.

Locally, he was instrumental in solving the murder of 16-year-old Bethany Hyde and helping to get a conviction in the Michael Decorso murder trial.

"He was completely and utterly devoted to his work, second only to his family," says Kent Timothy, a forensic investigator with Spjut's unit.

He was known for helping outside agencies that needed assistance, and was in fact looking at a gun the A.T.F. had sent him to examine when it fired.

"Very giving, willing to help and share. There was not a request that came in from any outside agency that he didn't respond to," Timothy says.

"He just had a big heart. He'd take care of people, that's what he liked to do," May says.

Although Scott Spjut wasn't a sworn police officer, he was a forensic investigator. He will be recognized as an investigator who was killed in the line of duty.

West Jordan police have agreed to investigate just how the accident may have happened.

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