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Highway Patrol memorial crosses moved to private land

Published December 19, 2012 7:52 am

Judges ordered monument removed because it endorsed a religion on public property.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Kaysville • The two large memorial crosses, each flanked by an American flag, are clearly visible to motorists on nearby Interstate 15.

Each cross bears the name of a fallen Highway Patrol trooper, killed in the line of duty.

The crosses once sat on state land at a rest stop across the freeway. But earlier this fall, they were moved to private property owned by Scott Larsen, who operates the nearby Kaysville Express Absolute Automotive Repair at 427 N. Market Street.

"It is an honor to have the crosses here," said Larsen, a retired deputy sheriff. "It's a nice tribute, not only to the men whose names are on the crosses but those who continue to serve and protect the public."

The two crosses were among 11 of 14 such memorials that previously sat on state Department of Transportation rights of way. In 2005, the American Atheists Inc. and three of its Utah members sued the state over the crosses. They claimed the memorials suggested a state endorsement of Christianity.

In 2010, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver agreed and ordered the crosses removed. State attorneys appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it declined to hear the case.

When Larsen heard the crosses had to be taken down, he called the Utah Highway Patrol Association and offered his business' property for the memorials.

"It really bothered me when they had to take them down. I knew one of the guys whose name was on a cross and even though I was only five when the other was killed—my dad knew him. Davis County was a pretty small place back then," Larsen said.

Kevin Wright of the Utah Highway Patrol Association said in recent weeks most of the memorial crosses have been moved to private property.

"And within the next three to four weeks they should all be back up," he said, noting that two will be placed on land in Sandy and Lindon owned by the Larry H. Miller family. "We've seen an incredible outpouring of support from the communities and property owners near where these crosses originally stood. Some we've only had to move a few feet."

Wright said a 15th cross soon will be erected as well. It will honor Aaron Beesley. The Utah Highway Patrol trooper died June 30 of a fall on Mount Olympus. Beesley, 34, was part of a helicopter crew that minutes earlier had rescued hikers from the mountain.







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