Wasatch deputy dies during Provo traffic stop

Published: Friday, Aug. 15 2008 12:18 a.m. MDT

PROVO — If Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Irvine had a question about alcohol enforcement on the roads, there was no question about whom he called.

"If you had a question about something, Scott would help you, and he'd make you feel like a million bucks afterward," Irvine said of his friend and colleague, former UHP trooper and current Wasatch County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Hathcock, who collapsed and died Thursday morning during a routine traffic stop in Provo Canyon.

Hathcock, 48, of Heber City, was declared dead at the scene after he pulled a car over for speeding along U.S. 189.

While standing outside the car waiting for the driver to pull out paperwork, Hathcock collapsed. The driver and a passer-by tried CPR until emergency crews arrived, but they couldn't revive him, said Summit County sheriff's deputy Josh Wall.

Officials still don't know what caused the collapse.

Friend and former fellow deputy Jed Olsen said he knew of no health problems other than a heart murmur Hathcock was diagnosed with 13 years ago, which had never been a problem.

He remembers Hathcock as a good father who loved his family and as a hard-working but humorous officer.

"The best way to characterize Scott, he had quite a sense of humor," Olsen said. "It was very subtle, it wasn't overbearing. He always could laugh at a tough situation. He would make people feel better about a tough deal."

Hathcock is the first officer the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office has lost in the line of duty in 18 years, when they lost a deputy fighting a fire, Wall said.

"Some people that know their stuff, they'll talk down to you, make you feel like you're very little, but not with Scott," Irvine said. "He made you feel really good."

Although Hathcock had every right to be cocky about his wealth of knowledge, he never was, friends and colleagues all said.

Instead, he used his insight to help and instruct thousands of officers about correctly using the Intoxilyzer — a device used to check alcohol levels of suspected intoxicated drivers.

He also created PowerPoint presentations, officer training videos and testified in court — all while keeping a positive attitude and a subtle sense of humor.

"He's just one of those great guys," Irvine said. "You were better because you knew him."

Lt. Steve Winward with the UHP called Hathcock one of the best officers he's ever trained.

"He was phenomenal," Winward said. "He had quite a good rapport with many officers throughout the entire state. He's the type of person that when he taught the class, officers were at the edge of their seat the entire time."

Hathcock kept up-to-date with all the newest trends and technology in the field and was always teaching his students ways that would help them do their jobs better, Winward said.

Hathcock started his law enforcement career with UHP nearly 20 years ago, working in different areas until he got into the alcohol program at the end of the 1990s, Winward said.

Winward joined the alcohol program in 1999 and the two worked together until Hathcock retired in 2007 and went full-time with the sheriff's office. He had worked part time for Wasatch County for nearly a dozen years.

"He was very easy to supervise," Winward said. "He just went out and did his job. He was one of the better employees I've ever had the opportunity to know. It's a big loss for the whole law enforcement community."

Friends and LDS ward members have been rallying around the family, offering condolences and support to Hathcock's wife, Suzanne, and the couple's two boys, Travis, 22, and Caleb, 12.

In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up to help with funeral expenses in Scott Hathcock's name at any branch of Zions Bank.

"He was a very caring and loving individual," said Bishop Robert McDonald of the Heber 2nd Ward, where Hathcock had been a counselor for two years. "But he's one that believed in the laws of the land and he felt like people should live them. He lived rules and enforced rules but was also obedient to rules. He did everything he could to comply with the laws of God and the laws of man."


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com

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