The way Sgt. Cory Wride lived his life made him a hero, sheriff says
OREM — Wednesday was all about remembering a fallen deputy.
"We want to make sure that this day is Cory's day of remembrance, that we bring sufficient honor to him and his sacrifice and pay tribute to the man that he was — both in his professional life as a deputy and in his personal life as the example that he was," Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said.
Family members, friends, co-workers, fellow law enforcers and a community said goodbye Wednesday to Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride, a man who lived his life to provide service to others — and ultimately protected his community by making the ultimate sacrifice.
Wride was shot and killed in the line of duty one week ago while helping who he thought were stranded motorists. He was shot twice without warning while sitting in his patrol car.
Wride is the first member of the sheriff's office to be killed in the line of duty. Hundreds showed up at the UCCU Center on the campus of Utah Valley University to say goodbye to their loved one and hero.
"This is the day that we dread. We pray that this day will never come. But evil has crossed our path, and we are here," Tracy told the congregation.
But the sheriff said it was not how Wride died that made him a hero, it was how he lived. And it was how the community responded to his death and rallied around to support his widow, his family and fellow officers that defined the citizens.
"Today, the fabric of this community is being revealed," Tracy said.
With an American-flag-draped coffin standing in the middle off the arena — flanked on either side by flowers and wreaths, including one that contained his cowboy hat hanging from it — family and friends paid tribute to the quiet cowboy who preferred his boots and the wide open spaces of ranch life and pheasant hunting with his family than the big city. Wride was a man who lived for his family, his faith and for serving others.
"We're just overwhelmed with what this has turned into. It kind of has a life of its own. As some of the deputies said last night, they're going to go all out for this. And I've had many of them tell me that they'd gladly take Cory's place," Wride's brother-in-law, Johnny Revill, said prior to the start of the funeral.
"The one thing I've learned about this whole experience is the brotherhood of these officers nationwide is something that I envy. Their example of sacrifice and love for each other is something we don't understand," he said. "I know Cory is rolling his eyes right now at this whole thing but glad that his brothers are able to pay this tribute, and he would do the same if it was them.
The law enforcement community did go "all out" for Wride on Wednesday. At his interment at the Spanish Fork Cemetery, Wride's coffin was transferred at the gate from a hearse to a horse-drawn carriage. As the carriage made its way past the line of law enforcers from all over the state standing in salute, Nanette Wride took the reins and guided her husband's coffin to its final resting place.
Following a 21-gun salute, a flyover by four service helicopters in the "missing man" formation, and the playing of taps by two trumpeters who echoed each other, the flag that had covered Wride's coffin all day was folded and presented to his wife. Additional folded flags were then presented to Wride's mother, his daughter and his sons.
When dispatchers made the traditional "last call" over the police radio — when Wride's police handle was called out and there was only silence in reply — Nanette Wride bowed her head and the tears flowed.
"Sgt. Cory Wride, we thank you for your dedication and service to the citizens of Utah County, the Utah County Sheriff's Office, the state of Utah and to the United States of America. Your life of service and your ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten. End of watch, Jan. 30, 2014," the dispatcher said over the radio.
Revill said he also wiped back tears Tuesday night after his brother-in-law's viewing when a couple of officers pulled him and his 15-year-old son aside and showed them the U.S. Honor Flag, the one recovered from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, which has been placed by the side of every fallen officer and military member since then.
"It is such an honor to be here today to pay tribute to the Wride family and deputy Cory Wride," said Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme. "He is a great man who dedicated his life to a life of service. There's no greater calling than to serve your fellow man."
Several times during Wednesday's funeral, Wride's family thanked the law enforcement community and commented about how in awe they are of the brotherhood that exists.
"Our dad loved this profession and he loved all the people he worked with, and now we can really see why," said Wride's son, Nathan Mohler.
Mohler also said his family will be campaigning to have bulletproof windshields installed in every officer's patrol car.
"We won't stop until we make it a reality," he said. "Our dad didn't die for nothing, and you won't, either."
During his remarks, Tracy told the congregation that sheriff's deputy Greg Sherwood, who was shot in the head while pursuing Wride's gunman, underwent successful surgery Wednesday and the bullet that had been lodged in his head was removed. Sherwood was communicating with fellow deputies at the funeral through Skype, Tracy said, and he should be able to go home soon. The news was met with a round of applause.
Wride's siblings remembered him as a quiet man who loved the outdoors. A lot of his worth ethic came from working on a ranch in Victor, Idaho, where he learned about livestock and farming equipment. In 1988, Wride joined the Utah Army National Guard. Later, he served an LDS mission in New York City. He took a job with the sheriff's office in 1994.
For many years, Cory and Nanette Wride lived in the small farmhouse in Benjamin where his grandfather had lived. In 2011, they built their dream house on the same property next to the little farmhouse.
"Cory's legacy," sister Marci Taylor said, "is to love one another, take time to build and nurture family relationships."
Deputy Shawn Radmall recalled that even on hunting trips with the guys, Wride would call his wife just to hear her voice. And every time they drove through Wyoming, he told the story of baptizing his daughter — the "highlight of his life," Radmall recalled.
"Cory was a peacemaker and a Samaritan," he said.
One of his former partners, Sgt. Eldon Packer, recalled that Wride "always wanted to be the best at whatever he did" and said his quick actions saved other people's lives on numerous occasions.
"Indeed, Cory has left behind a legacy, a legacy of faith and action," he said.
Packer also reaffirmed Wride's strong religious beliefs, noting that Wride knew that "physical death was not the worst thing that could happen to a person," but rather spiritual death.
Blake Wride said his son was never a person who needed to be recognized for his service. In fact, he rarely talked about his police work at home. But over the past week, the elder Wride said he has heard stories of his son's service that he never knew.
"He was a good man who strived to live a good life and to follow the Savior," he said.
Revill added, "He did things the right way because that's the way it's supposed to be done."
Just as a nation's freedom isn't free, Tracy told the congregation that peace and security to a community isn't free, and was paid for in blood and treasure. He reminded everyone that Wride was the seventh of eight officers killed nationwide in January.
Wride, who always had "that famous little smile," would always try to resolve problems first by offering an olive branch, the sheriff said, and then use force if necessary.
"Cory was truly the embodiment of the saying, 'Walk softly and carry a big stick,'" he said.
"Rest assured that your honor and your courage can never been challenged. You have paid the ultimate price," Tracy said, speaking to his fallen deputy. "In the end, your sacrifice will help and secure that evil will not triumph over good. We owe you a debt we cannot repay. We miss you already. There is a hole in our heart."
Gov. Gary Herbert extended his thanks to the Wride family on behalf of the citizens of Utah, and encouraged all people to serve their communities.
"We thank Cory and his family for the service and sacrifice that has been rendered," he said. "We're better off because of the service, the sacrifice of Sgt. Wride."
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