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Elementary honors tipsters

Students thank 8 who helped find Elizabeth

SANDY — They don't have superpowers or million-dollar contracts, but the two couples and the police officers who found Elizabeth Smart were treated like true heroes today at Bell View Elementary.

With songs, speeches and booming applause, the school honored the couples who tipped police last week to Elizabeth's whereabouts and the four officers who responded and recovered the kidnapped girl.

Officers Karen Jones, Bill O'Neal, Troy Rasmussen and Sgt. Victor Quezada, who detained Brian David Mitchell and recognized Elizabeth under her wig, sunglasses and a veil March 12, were honored with a plaque and defining applause.

"These are heroes," principal Howard Griffith said. "These are people in our community who on a daily basis take the time to do what's important. We need to pull together the community and celebrate all the things that are good right now."

Sandy Police Chief Steve Chapman had his own praise for tipsters Nancy and Rudy Montoya and Anita and Alvin Dickerson: "If it weren't for them, we wouldn't be able accomplish what we did."

The Dickersons and the Montoyas received a standing ovation as they accepted flowers from the school.

Nancy Montoya wiped away tears as she accepted the flowers. She reminded the students: "Call on the police; they're great people."

Griffith noted that the gathering was more than to celebrate Smart's safe return but to honor all local heroes. Following a week that saw child abductions and war topping the headlines, Griffith told the students there are positive things they can find every day.

"This is an assembly that needed to happen," he said.

The school orchestra played patriotic songs and students sang the songs "That's What Friends are For" and "This Land is Your Land." Others gave speeches. Second-grade student Rebecca Wheatley said, "I don't believe heroes need super powers. They are are around us every day."

Fourth-grader Hayley Walton said in an open letter to police officers, "When you found Elizabeth Smart, you helped us feel more secure."

Jones thanked the school and told the students to always keep their eyes open and call if they need help.

The Montoyas and the Dickersons, the most likely candidates to receive the reward money offered for Elizabeth's safe return, told reporters afterward they aren't going to worry about who gets the reward and they'll let Salt Lake City handle the process.

Mayor Rocky Anderson has set March 28 as a deadline for anyone to make a claim for the reward. Some members of the Mitchell family believe they are entitled to the money to help pay for his defense.

Montoya said that notion doesn't make sense.


E-MAIL: preavy@desnews.com