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NPS mourns loss of ranger who died on-duty after falling at Bryce Canyon in Utah

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NPS mourns loss of ranger who died on-duty after falling at Bryce Canyon in Utah


A 78-year-old ranger at the Bryce Canyon National Park died due to injuries he sustained after he tripped and fell while on-duty.

Tom Lorig was working with park visitors, directing them to a shuttle bus, at Bryce Canyon’s annual Astronomy Festival around 11:30 p.m. Friday when he fell and struck his head on a large rock, the National Park Service said in a news release.

A visitor found Lorig unresponsive and immediately alerted a law enforcement ranger. Park rangers, medically trained bystanders, and local EMS personnel provided Lorig with initial lifesaving care but were unable to revive him, NPS said.

Deceased worked was a volunteer park ranger

Lorig, who served as registered nurse in Seattle for 40 years, worked with the NPS as a permanent, seasonal, and volunteer park ranger.

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He began his work with the National Park Service at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in June of 1968 and served at 14 national park sites including Badlands, Bryce Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, El Malpais, Florissant Fossil Beds, Glen Canyon, Klondike Gold Rush, Mount Rainier, New River Gorge, Olympic, Saguaro, Yosemite, Zion, and Dinosaur National Monument, “of which he was especially fond,” NPS said.

“Tom Lorig served Bryce Canyon, the National Park Service, and the public as an interpretive park ranger, forging connections between the world and these special places that he loved,” said Park Superintendent Jim Ireland, said in a statement.

“As our community processes and grieves this terrible loss, we extend our deepest condolences to all of Ranger Lorig’s family and friends.”

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Ireland also thanked NPS officials, emergency services staff and local bystanders who helped in administering first-aid to the ranger.

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah, within a couple hours drive of both Zion National Park and Capitol Reef National Park and about four hours from Salt Lake City.

Bryce Canyon is the smallest and highest of Utah’s “Mighty 5” national parks at 56 square miles and an average elevation of 8,000 feet (some areas top 9,000 feet above sea level).

Contributing: Eve Chen, USA TODAY

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Saman Shafiq is a trending news reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at sshafiq@gannett.com and follow her on X @saman_shafiq7.



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Utah

Why don’t Utah restaurants display simple letter grades like other states?

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Why don’t Utah restaurants display simple letter grades like other states?


From New York to California, you’ve probably seen them hanging in restaurant windows yourself. Plain cards denoting a restaurant’s compliance (and supposed cleanliness in the mind’s eye of a customer) with local law. If you’ve watched this year’s finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you might well be having you’re very own Larry David moment. Why no letters? Where are the letters? The letters! I need the letters!

The answer to why Utah lacks this system is surprisingly satisfying, and for once, in an often head-scratching Beehive – makes complete sense. To get to the bottom of the matter I recently spoke to Jeff Oaks, Bureau Manager at Salt Lake County Health Department.

First, though, let’s quickly recap how the process for inspection works here in Utah. Any establishment in the state offering food or drink can expect anywhere from one to three visits per year from their respective county health department. The frequency is dictated by the perceived risk of the food and drink offering; a coffee shop without refrigerated products is considered a lesser risk to consumers, than a restaurant handling a more delicate product, sushi for example.

As you might expect, visits by health inspectors are made without announcement. In talking to Oaks though, the veteran inspector is keen to stress the department isn’t looking to catch businesses flat-footed. “Many of us, myself included, have worked extensively in the industry. We understand the day-to-day challenges business owners encounter. We know that dropping by during a lunch rush – well, the environment might not be the perfect pristine moment in time.”

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Following an inspection, comes the rating part. Oaks goes on, “Like other states, here in Utah we use a system where each violation comes with a points-based penalty, reflecting the severity of the infraction. One, three, or six points can be handed out for each failure during an inspection. The larger point penalties are given for serious failures of safety. After the inspection, the total points are tallied up – the lower the overall score the better.” So far so simple, but it’s here that Utah diverges from other states, avoiding potentially misleading glance and go gradings.

As Oaks explained to me, “Violations are not all equal in their potential hazard to diners. Assigning letter grades based on a cumulative total can be very misleading to the public.”

To illustrate Oak’s point, imagine two hypothetical restaurants. We’ll call them Bob’s and Bill’s. Bob’s might have accumulated 20 points during a routine inspection, all borne from minor one-point infractions; a cracked tile here, a light lacking preceise lumen levels there. Meanwhile, over at Bill’s, a seemingly better score of 18 points was doled out solely from six-point violations – more dangerous infractions such as raw meats held at the wrong temperature, or pest infestation run wild.

Under a simpler ABC grading system, rankings are typically delineated by point thresholds – Bob might be graded with a B for his efforts, while Bill could receive an A. Such oversimplification though provides a false sense of security for consumers; after all in our above example, Bob is merely struggling to maintain an older building, while Bill is turning a blind eye to rampant roaches and raw sewage. Where would you want to eat? The devil, as they say, is always in the detail, which is where Utah’s system is particularly advantageous.

“We feel it’s important to offer consumers an insight into this level of granularity”, explains Oaks. “It’s why we operate a QR code-based lookup system where every restaurant’s inspection data can be reviewed on demand and in detail.” Per Oaks info, the next time you enter a restaurant, take a look around. The establishment’s food permit should be displayed. Per 4.1.2 of Salt Lake County Health Regulation (yes I am a stickler for these types of things):

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“upon acceptance of a permit issued by the Department, the permit holder shall: (i) Post the permit in the establishment’s primary entrance, window or door, such that it is visible from outside the establishment;”

Remember, that’s the law folks. Emblazoned on the permit you should also find a scannable QR code leading directly to the business’s last inspection report.

It should be noted that the system isn’t yet perfect, but changes are coming. Expect a mobile-friendly system to debut later in the year. In the meantime, feel free to head to the SLCoHD website here. Every one of Salt Lake County’s 5,000+ inspected establishments is listed in detail.

Image credit, ChatGPT/Dall-E.

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A Utah man was the first to fly across the country in a single day. Now a USU grad student plans to retrace the journey, exactly 100 years later

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A Utah man was the first to fly across the country in a single day. Now a USU grad student plans to retrace the journey, exactly 100 years later


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — On June 23, 1924, Russell L. Maughan, of Logan, Utah, became the first person to fly from one coast of the country to the other in a single day.

The pioneering flight — from New York City to San Francisco, with several refueling stops in between — took more than 21 hours.

Now, a century later, 26-year-old Nathan Hoch, who currently lives in Logan, is planning to retrace Maughan’s flight path, paying tribute to one of his personal heroes.

“Not many people plan these wild, disjointed trips just for some historic sake,” he said, describing the plan as a “hare-brained idea” he thought up a few months ago.

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Yet, he committed to the trip when he found a flight for the last leg of the journey that lands in San Francisco within minutes of when Maughan completed his historic flight.

“I found a commercial flight that lands at 9:50 p.m., which is exactly 100 years after he landed in San Francisco,” Hoch said.

Russell L. Maughan with his family in 1923. (credit: Smithsonian Institution)

Maughan’s flight was a dawn-to-dusk venture. Per the National Museum of the United States Air Force, he took off in a PW-8 plane at first light and “raced the sun” across the country.

Maughan stopped five times to refuel. The total journey took 21 hours and 48 and-a-half minutes.

For Hoch, his journey will not be in one day. He plans to leave on June 19 and complete it on June 23.

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Hoch is retracing the flight path through a mix of commercial flights and interstate drives, as some locations in the middle of the country are “hard to get to with commercial aviation.”

The first flight will bring Hoch to Dayton, Ohio. The next lands him in Kansas City, Missouri. After that, it’s a drive to North Platte, Nebraska, followed by another drive to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

After that, he’ll roll into Denver and fly to Salt Lake City, where his wife will drive him to Utah’s West Desert, which was one of Maughan’s more remote refueling stops.

“There’s nothing there,” Hoch said. “They just picked it because it’s flat, featureless terrain. An easy place to land.”

Russell L. Maughan lands to refuel in Utah’s West Desert on his historic dawn-to-dusk flight. (credit: Smithsonian Institution)

The last leg of Hoch’s trip will take him from Salt Lake to San Francisco on June 23, where he’ll land within moments of the 100-year anniversary of his hero’s history-making accomplishment.

While Hoch has long been interested in aviation history, he only learned about Maughan a few years ago while doing his undergraduate studies at USU. On campus, there is a monument to Maughan, who is in the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame.

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Along with making the first single-day cross-country flight across America, Maughan also served with distinction in WWI.

“He was a fighter pilot and shot down four enemy aircraft, so that’s one shy of being an ace,” Hoch said.

When he was a student at USU, Hoch showed his then-girlfriend the monument to Maughan. She wasn’t turned off by his enthusiasm for the Utah pilot, who died 66 years ago.

“She’s now my wife,” Hoch said, adding that she was a bit unsure about his trip at first. “So it’s going to be a Father’s Day gift for me.”

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Utah's fallen officer to get lasting honor

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Utah's fallen officer to get lasting honor


Utah Rep. Burgess Owens introduced legislation Wednesday to rename the Santaquin Post Office on 20 West Main Street in honor of Utah police Sgt. Bill Dean Hooser, who was killed in the line of duty on May 5, 2024.

“Sgt. Bill Hooser served Utah with courage and dedication, making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” said Owens, who represents Utah’s 4th District.

“Renaming the Santaquin Post Office in his honor is a fitting tribute to Sgt. Hooser’s legacy — one that truly embodied our state’s spirit of service and will ensure his contributions to our community become an indelible part of Utah’s story. May God continue to comfort the Hooser family in their time of grief and watch over all who answer the call to serve.”

He told the Deseret News Wednesday morning he hopes to get this bill across the finish line this year.

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Hooser’s career in law enforcement began at the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office in New Mexico eight years ago. He came back to Utah in 2017 and joined the Santaquin Police Department. Earlier in February, Hooser was promoted to the rank of sergeant, according to KSL.com.

He died on May 5 while assisting a Utah Highway Patrol trooper with a traffic stop involving a semi-truck and 53-foot trailer. The semi-truck driver crashed into the police car. Hooser is survived by his spouse of 29 years, two daughters, and one granddaughter.

Owens attributed Utah’s success to its frontline workers, like the fallen officer, who keep the community safe, he said over the phone.

The entire four-person congressional delegation attended Hooser’s funeral service in Utah Valley University’s event center in Orem. Owens worked with Reps. Blake Moore, John Curtis and Celeste Maloy to find the “perfect way” to honor Hooser.

To change the name of a post office building, the rules require the consensus of the entire state’s congressional delegation, which can be tough in some instances, said Owens. But he and the other three understood what Hooser’s loss meant and agreed it needed to be done.

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The three other Utah representatives are co-sponsors of this bill. “I am deeply honored to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of Sgt. Hooser by renaming this post office in his memory,” said Rep. John Curtis, who represents Utah’s 3rd District.

“This act serves as a lasting tribute to his dedication to the Santaquin community and to all of Utah’s law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily to protect our communities. May this serve as a constant reminder of his service and sacrifice.”

Rep. Blake Moore, who represents the 1st District, said, “This bill will provide a way for Utahns in Santaquin to remember Sgt. Hooser and his family, along with law enforcement families across the nation who are forever changed by senseless tragedies like this.”

Rep. Celeste Maloy, who represents the 2nd District, also said she was honored to be a part of this legislation to rename the Santaquin building. She said she hoped it serves as “a symbol of our support for law enforcement.”

Santaquin Mayor Daniel Olson said he saw Hooser as a friend after years of knowing him.

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“He faithfully served the city, the citizens of Santaquin and neighboring communities and has always been a model of faithfully executing the duties of his office,” said Olson. “He was a friend to all and a mentor to those who served alongside him. His ability to reach out and teach was a gift we will always remember.”

Owens said he was grateful to Hooser’s family for allowing him to honor the late officer, and other members of law enforcement.

“When I was growing up, we had some respect for that. All the kids wanted to be one day was a policeman,” he said, adding, “We need to get back to having that same kind of respect again.”



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