Patient dies 2 months after U. nurse was arrested for protecting him

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SALT LAKE CITY — The patient at University Hospital whom nurse Alex Wubbels was protecting when she was arrested by Salt Lake City police has died.

Bill Gray died from his injuries Monday night, according to a Facebook post by the Rigby Police Department in Idaho.

"He has been in a long, hard fight. Tonight, his body lost this fight," the department posted. "We say 'body' because his spirit will live on with all of us. Bill was truly the best of mankind, always willing to help, always willing to go the extra mile. Bill was a big man, with a bigger heart. Everything about him was generous and kind."

On July 26, Gray, a truck driver and reserve member of the Rigby Police Department, was driving a semitrailer in Sardine Canyon near Wellsville when he was hit by a motorist who was fleeing police. The head-on collision caused a fiery explosion.

The driver of the fleeing vehicle, Marcos Torres, 26, of Brigham City, was killed in the crash.

Gray, whose body was on fire, was able to get out of his truck, and police assisted in dousing the flames. He was burned over 46 percent of his body, according to Rigby police. At the time, his family said he was given a 22 percent chance of survival.

Gray was flown by medical helicopter to University Hospital's Burn Center. He was unconscious and unresponsive when he arrived due in part to heavy sedation from medics.

Shortly after the crash, the Logan Police Department made a request to Salt Lake City police to draw a couple of vials of Gray's blood. But when detective Jeff Payne arrived at the hospital, he did not have a warrant to draw blood or consent from Gray to draw blood, and Gray was not a suspect in a crime.

For those reasons, Wubbels refused to tell Payne what room Gray was in so he could draw blood.

After 90 minutes of discussion, Payne, on the orders of his supervisor, Salt Lake Police Lt. Jordan Tracy, arrested Wubbels for investigation of interfering with a police investigation.

The body camera video of Payne lunging toward Wubbels, grabbing her and pushing her out the doors, up against a wall and handcuffing her as she screamed, went viral and caused a nationwide uproar.

Last week, Gray's family made a statement regarding the incident and thanked Wubbels.

"I'm glad she was protecting my husband, and I love our police community," Bill Gray's wife, April, said in the statement.

"I'm deeply grateful to the Logan police officers who helped Bill on the scene of the accident, as well as all the medical staff who have treated him since then. They have all been wonderful," April Gray said.

During his time in the hospital, Bill Gray received treatment to remove burned skin, three skin graft procedures and preparation for more, and efforts to fight off infection in his injured skin and lungs, according to the family.

In a Facebook post Monday, Rigby police noted that Bill Gray "received the best and most skillful care available."

The department shared a memory of Gray, recounting the time last winter when the snow had been particularly heavy and he used his all-terrain vehicle with a blade on the front to plow a quarter-mile stretch of sidewalk so children in the area could walk to school safely.

"This was the kind of man Bill Gray was, a man of selfless service. He was a man of kindness and heart, a man of dedication to not only his family, but those in his community," the department posted.

"Bill always had a funny story to bring about a laugh. He always did the good thing. This world would be better off with more Bill Grays, and this world is truly darker without his light. We love you, Bill. Rest easy. You will be sorely missed on the watch."

Contributing: Payton Davis

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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