See the context of this sign.

Deputy Sheriff Rodney Badger
Gave His Life

The first known Utah law enforcement officer to
give his life in the line of duty was Great Salt
Lake County Deputy Sheriff Rodney Badger,
one of the original 1847 pioneers. He
drowned in 1853 in the Weber River while
on assignment from Brigham Young to
assist pioneers who were fording the river.

On April 29, 1853, several wagons were
lined up along the river, waiting to make
the treacherous crossing. The water was
ice cold and running fast and deep. The
first wagon made it safely across. The
second wagon, carrying an immigrant
family with six children, was too light to
make the crossing. The father was given
stern warnings by the wagon master and
Deputy Badger to ford the river without his
famiily. These warnings were ignored. As the
wagon entered the river, the strong current
began to drag it uncontrollably downstream into
deeper water. The wagon overturned, spilling the
mother and children into the frigid waters. The father
remained with the team. Without hesitation, Deputy Badger
dove into the river and rescued the mother and four of the
children. Continuing to ignore his own safety, Deputy
Badger swam back out to retrieve the remaining two
children. The elements finally overcame him, and he
disappeared from sight, giving his life to save others. The
river also claimed the lives of the two children which
30-year-old Deputy Badger attempted to save. An immediate
search located the body of one child the next day. The body
of the second child was not located until three months later.
History does not record what happened to the surviving
family members. They may have gone on to
California which was the family's destination
when they joined th wagon train.

Eighteen months passed before the remains
of Deputy Badger were found on an island
1-1/2 miles below the place he entered the
water. His remains were returned to Salt
Lake City where his wife and four
children resided. Rodney was a
counselor in the Salt Lake 15th Ward
Bishopric at the time of his death.

In a letter informing Badger's wife of the
tragedy, an eye witness, William H.
Hooper observed, "To offer you condolence
for such as loss would be useless, as my
feeling while I write overpowers me, and
what must be yours, his wife, to lose a husband
who was beloved by all men how knew him....It
is useless to say the shock to me is great and the
camp is in gloom. P.S. The mother and four children
were saved.

On April 25, 1996, 143 years after he gave his life in the line
of duty, the Purple Heart and Medal of Honor were awarded
to Rodney Badger and given to his descentants by the Salt
Lake County Sheriff's Office. A sketch of his likeness
appears on this plaque.

"Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life
for his friends."
--John 15:13

Dedicated September 1998

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