SALT LAKE CITY — A former Deseret News reporter and public information officer for various agencies within the state was killed Thursday while riding his bicycle to work in Alabama.
Alabama's Anniston Star newspaper reported that Derek Thomas Jensen, 37, was hit by a truck that was changing lanes, and two responding nurses could not revive him. Jensen was pronounced dead at 7:20 a.m.
Jensen worked as a reporter at the Deseret News from 1999 to 2003, when he left to work for the state's Department of Public Safety. He served as spokesman for the Utah Division of Emergency Services and Homeland Security, as well as the Utah Highway Patrol. In 2006, Jensen went to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency office in Denver.
"He was a hard worker, great reporter, honest, funny, extremely athletic and first and foremost, a family man," Deseret News reporter Pat Reavy said. "The impact of his loss cannot be overemphasized. The news of his death is so devastating. He will be greatly missed."
Jensen was most recently employed as the external affairs director at the Center for Domestic Preparedness at Fort McClellan. He studied communications at Ricks College and Asian Studies at Utah State University, where he graduated in 1999.
He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Mina, and three children, ages 10, 7 and 1. The family lives in Oxford, a suburb of Birmingham, in eastern Alabama.
Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman and former Deseret News reporter Joe Dougherty said he had received dozens of emails from the local media and public information community mourning Jensen's death.
"We're all very sorry to hear of this," he said.
During his tenure at the Deseret News, Jensen wrote mostly crime-related stories, including the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, and he also covered security issues at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.