MAESER, Uintah County At a memorial service filled equally with tears and laughter, several hundred people, including a large law enforcement contingent from Utah and neighboring states, paid tribute Saturday to Uintah County Sheriff's detective Cpl. Kevin Orr.
Orr, 34, was remembered as a loving and mischievous child, a dedicated father and husband, and a man who turned to cooking whenever the stress of his job started to get to him. An 11-year veteran of the sheriff's department, Orr, 34, died Nov. 22, one day after the helicopter he was in stuck a power line and plummeted into the Green River during a search for a missing woman. Orr is survived by his wife, Holley, and four children.
"I know that he's in a place where he can help other people out," Damon Orr said of his twin brother. "I know that's hard on us now, but I know that's where he's needed."
Damon Orr told mourners his brother's family is touched by the outpouring of support they've received from the community. He offered a special thanks to the numerous officers, deputies and troopers who attended Saturday's service.
"It means a lot to us that you came," he said, adding that his brother was probably "up there with a big old smile on his face."
Orr's mother, Claudia, said she was surprised in 1995 when her son announced that he was going to the police academy, having never heard him express an interest in law enforcement before. But the work suited Orr, and he was named Uintah County Deputy of the Year in 1999.
Claudia Orr said her son struggled with whether he should pursue a promotion from deputy to detective last year because he valued his work in the Drug Court program. She said her son knew he was making a difference in people's lives, something the family saw first-hand during Friday night's viewing.
"We had several young people come through last night who had gone through Drug Court," she said. "One young woman said she owed her life to Kevin; he had saved her life."
Vernal police officer Robert Roth, who retired as a lieutenant from the sheriff's department earlier this year, said Orr treated people fairly and looked out for the victims in the cases he investigated.
"It hurts deeply," Roth said after an emotional graveside service that included a 21-gun salute, buglers, a bagpiper and a flyover by two medical helicopters. "He was the caliber of person that lived his life as an example to all of us."
Roth said Orr's death during a search for a missing person illustrates how law enforcement officers put themselves in jeopardy for the safety of others."We traditionally think of gun battles or car chases, but it's about service," he said. "Some of us are willing to to die for that cause and some of us have."