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Utah police officer killed by semi-truck driver during traffic stop identified: ‘Died a hero’

Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser, 50, started his law enforcement career eight years ago after first serving as an unpaid volunteer, his brother said.

A Utah police officer has been identified after he was killed early Sunday when the driver of a semi-truck allegedly fled a traffic stop and struck the officer on a highway.

Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser, 50, was remembered as a "top-notch officer" and a hero as colleagues and family spoke during an emotional press conference on Monday.

"Just on a personal note, I know everybody says this when an officer gets killed," said Santaquin Police Chief Rod Hurst, "but Sgt. Hooser was one of those guys that was really squared away."

Hooser is survived by his wife of 29 years, two daughters and one granddaughter.

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Hooser’s brother Michael said the family was devastated and thanked the community for showing love and support.

"Nothing could ever make up for the loss we feel," Michael said. "We take comfort in knowing Bill died a hero, doing the job he loved, serving people he loved."

Michael said his brother began his career in law enforcement later in life, starting out as an unpaid volunteer. Hurst said Hooser first joined the San Juan County Sheriff's Office in New Mexico eight years ago before returning to his native Utah and joining the Santaquin Police Department.

Hooser was killed Sunday while helping a Utah Highway Patrol trooper conduct a traffic stop on a big rig along Interstate 15 after receiving a 911 call reporting an individual on top of the back of a semi-trailer.

The truck driver fled the traffic stop, pulling an abrupt U-turn and intentionally striking Hooser, Hooser’s vehicle and a UHP patrol vehicle, Spanish Fork Police Lt. Cory Slaymaker said. Hooser died at the scene.

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Police identified the truck driver as 41-year-old Michael Aaron Jayne.

Slaymaker said Jayne fled on foot to a nearby convenience store, where he stole another semi-truck. The truck was recovered in Mona, Utah, where the suspect was believed to have stolen a Ford pickup truck. Jayne allegedly drove the stolen pickup to Mt. Pleasant, where he ditched the vehicle and stole another Ford F150 pickup truck.

Jayne was later found near Vernal, about 100 miles from where the fatal traffic stop occurred, driving the stolen pickup truck, police said. After a short chase, police said Jayne crashed the stolen pickup and was taken into custody. 

Police said the investigation remains ongoing.

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