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North Salt Lake officer dies of injuries

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Charlie Skinner

Charlie Skinner

NORTH SALT LAKE — His family said he couldn't wait to get his uniform on to start another day at work.

On Monday morning officer Charlie Skinner, 30, suffered severe head injuries after crashing his patrol car into the concrete base of a restaurant sign during a police pursuit. His twin babies were only 3 weeks old, and he was just settling into the new house he had bought with his wife.

Friday evening, just after 7 p.m., Skinner was removed from life support.

Sgt. Gary Koehn with the Bountiful Police Department, who is Skinner's father-in-law, told the Deseret News that he was surprised when Skinner began showing an interest in law enforcement, but once Skinner had his uniform, it all made sense.

"He liked the sense of duty," Koehn said. "He loved the uniform and being visible as a source of help to his community."

William Fisher, 30, was the man police officers were pursuing the night of Skinner's crash. Later, Fisher rolled his vehicle in Salt Lake City. He was not seriously injured and is in the custody of state corrections officers for investigation of stealing a car, a series of warrants and a probation violation, said Sgt. Mitch Gwilliam with the North Salt Lake Police Department.

Monday the roads were rain-soaked, and Skinner lost control of his vehicle while in pursuit, Gwilliam said. Skinner suffered severe head trauma in the accident and remained unconscious until he was removed from life support five days later.

Koehn was at the scene of his son-in-law's accident on Monday morning, and he recalls seeing the pictures of his two young grandchildren among the wreckage.

"He only had his kids for three weeks," Koehn said. "But for those three weeks he never wanted to set them down. They would sit and play for hours. Even at work he took those kids with him in his thoughts."

Skinner had always been a soft-spoken man with a great sense of humor, Koehn said. But as Skinner settled into his work with the police, Koehn saw Skinner come out of his shell. Then Skinner had his kids and, Koehn said, "he beamed with joy as a father."

Tragedies such as this are never easy for a department, Gwilliam said. It is difficult for the officers to return home to their wives and kids, knowing that another officer can't.

"This has been pretty traumatic for the department," Gwilliam said. "We had an officer die doing the work he said he'd do."

The various departments that cover Davis County have a history of working closely together, Koehn said. As Skinner lay unconscious in his hospital room, it wasn't uncommon to find a group of officers, as many as 50, sitting in the waiting room outside.

A bank account to assist the Skinner family has been set up at Zions Bank in the officer's name, Gwilliam said.

E-mail: cnorlen@desnews.com