Sheriff Mack Holley, retired for almost four years, still remembers the 1964 incident and many others from his 24 years as a member of the Utah County Sheriff's Department.
"At first it was real hard on me when I investigated crimes. I learned to always anticipate the worst. As I became more hardened, it was easier."Holley, 68, said he misses certain parts of the job, but when he sees an accident or crime scene, he's thankful he doesn't have to get involved.
"The job is demanding on your personal life. There were very few nights I didn't get a telephone call. I love retirement."
And retirement, after 12 years as sheriff, seems to have been good to Holley. "We spent our first winter down in St. George but decided that wasn't for us. We wanted to spend more time with our grandchildren."
Besides spending time with his 22 grandchildren, Holley finds time to write, follow the football and basketball teams at Brigham Young University, sing in the county's Mendelssohn Chorus, participate in the Footprinters organization and work at the Provo LDS Temple.
He enjoyed fishing and hunting before his law enforcement days, but now he says "there are very few spots where there hasn't been an unpleasant experience."
Many days in the sheriff's department were spent with the Jeep Patrol (now Search and Rescue) responding to tragedy.
Holley kept a journal, which resulted in a book, as well as providing a meticulous record of events in his professional and personal life.
Holley rubbed shoulders with Gary Gilmore, executed in 1977 for the murder of two Utah County men. He came in regular contact with killers Dan and Ron Lafferty. Dan ran against him in a sheriff's race. Several years later, Ron was sentenced to death and Dan to life in prison for the murder of sister-in-law Brenda Lafferty and her daughter.
Holley made it through the Thistle mudslide in 1983, numerous plane crashes in Utah Lake and area mountains, and many drownings to boot. He oversaw construction of a new jail facility and department headquarters in 1977.
Most people would expect a longtime law enforcement officer to be a little hard-nosed, but not Holley. "I've always fought police authority and a heavy hand."
During Holley's tenure as sheriff, the county grew at its most rapid rate, and it was his leadership that carried the department through. He has always been an easygoing person, and that made him easier to work for, said his successor, Sheriff Dave Bateman.
"Mack made some real significant contributions to county law enforcement. He shepherded the department through a period of tremendous growth that necessitated a lot of organizational changes. He was a great man to work for. I owe the success of my career primarily to him."