SOUTH SALT LAKE — A South Salt Lake police officer died Saturday evening after he was struck by a vehicle during a confrontation with two reported burglars, one of whom was shot and killed by police, officials said.
Officer David Romrell, 31, died from injuries suffered in the incident shortly before 10 p.m., South Salt Lake Police Chief Jack Carruth said in a press conference held early Sunday morning, reported KSL.com.
Officers responded to a report of a burglary in progress at a business near 3575 S. West Temple Saturday evening. When they tried to stop the two men who were attempting to leave the scene in a vehicle, a tragedy occurred. The driver of the suspect vehicle accelerated toward the officers and struck Romrell, according to Chief Carruth.
The critically injured officer was transported to Intermountain Medical Center. Romrell was taken into emergency surgery “but was unable to recover from his injuries,” Carruth said, as his voice broke.
“As much as we prepare or know the risk of this job, we’re not prepared for this.”
– Chief Jack Carruth
Romrell leaves behind a wife and 4-month-old baby.
“Our focus last night and early this morning has been on David Romrell’s family and our South Salt Lake family who are grieving,” Carruth said.
This is new territory for the South Salt Lake Police Department as it is their first line-of-duty death.
“As much as we prepare or know the risk of this job, we’re not prepared for this,” Carruth said. “It’s taken us all by surprise. It’s been very, very painful.”
The chief described Romrell as a humble and “tactically sound officer.” He had been with the department for less than 11 months. Moreover, he was a Marine veteran who served several tours, Carruth said.
Furthermore, Carruth took a moment to thank all of the officers and fire personnel who responded, as well as the staff at the hospital who tried in vain to save Romrell.
In a procession early Sunday morning, Romrell’s body was escorted by “hundreds of officers” from Intermountain Medical Center to the medical examiner’s office in Taylorsville where “he’ll be watched over by officers until his funeral,” Carruth said.
During Saturday’s confrontation, officers fired their weapons at the vehicle as it accelerated toward them and bullets struck both the vehicle and the driver, Carruth said. The driver of the vehicle was later pronounced dead. The decedent has not been identified as of early Sunday morning.
The second male in the vehicle fled the scene on foot but, with the help of K9 officers, was found hiding a short distance away. Consequently, he was taken into custody. His name has also not been released.
Police haven’t yet released information about which of the officers fired the shots, or whether it may have been both of them.
Because officer weapons were fired, the officer-involved critical incident protocol has been activated and an outside agency is investigating the shooting, Carruth said.