UHP ‘outreach’ troopers help Minnesota family find long-lost loved one

Apr 10, 2018, 10:12 PM | Updated: Apr 11, 2018, 12:56 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A new Utah Highway Patrol unit is trying to build relationships with the homeless in the Rio Grande neighborhood, but its attention to detail also recently helped reunite a man with the family who had been searching for him for the past two years.

Bonnie Kunz, one of five ‘homeless outreach’ troopers now working the area, learned in February of a Minnesota family’s struggle to find Mark Waters, a loved one who had been completely off the grid for two years and absent for much of the past 45.

“They needed to speak with him to break him the news of his father passing away,” Kunz said.

Mark Waters

Kunz said troopers had a picture to reference, but she initially believed the odds of finding Waters were “slim to none, a needle in a haystack” due to the lack of recent contact and the fact that the homeless often migrate to other states.

Troopers, who had been policing the area closely under the ongoing Operation Rio Grande, managed to spot Waters the day after agreeing to help the family.

“My lieutenant happened to see him on the sidewalk that morning, called me out there,” Kunz recalled. “He wouldn’t really stay with us until I was able to tell him, ‘Hey, I talked to your brother.’”

Kunz said Waters’ demeanor instantly changed.

“I was very genuine with him in telling him, ‘Your brother is coming out here on Friday of this week, and he needs to speak with you, can you please call him?’” Kunz said. “He was very shocked, very taken back, where to he had to sit down, because he had a hard time composing himself.”

Nearly four weeks later, a ‘thank you’ letter came in the mail from Mark Waters’ brother, Martin Waters, along with a photo from the reunion.

“At the end of your day when you go home, you may think that it’s the end of a good day, but that you just did your job and thankfully made it home alive and well,” the letter read. “Our reunion with all the caring and collaborative people working together and going above and beyond was nothing short of miraculous—a real-life, made-for-TV movie. Thank you for your efforts!”

On Tuesday, Martin Waters thanked Kunz for the first time face-to-face through a Skype call.

“You’re fantastic!” Waters exclaimed. “We love you!”

“Love you guys, too,” replied Kunz, holding back a tear. “I really do think everything happens for a reason! Glad we met!”

Kunz said she believed her unit’s outreach efforts in the Rio Grande neighborhood are directly tied to troopers finding Waters.

“If we weren’t down here on foot, doing what we do down here at Rio Grande, we wouldn’t have found him,” Kunz said. “It’s pretty cool!”

In general, the outreach troopers have been working since January to build connections with the homeless to help them in their circumstances, while making the neighborhood safer — efforts that continued Tuesday.

“Some are easier to help than others, but for the most part, we get them wherever they need to be,” Kunz said. “We want the patrons around to know that it’s OK to have us officers around the area — we’re here to help.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Sevier County Sheriff's Office)...
Madison Swenson

Sevier County man missing after leaving home in white car

Authorities are asking for the public's help in locating an 81-year-old man from Sevier County.
18 hours ago
Lauren Steinbrecher

Assault against corrections officer brings up safety concerns at new state prison

Concerns are arising over safety at the new Utah state prison after an inmate attacked an officer and sent them to the hospital. The concerns are sparking discussions on Capitol Hill, between corrections officers advocates and lawmakers.
18 hours ago
Sen. Jake Anderegg, pictured at the Capitol on March 3, 2022, wants to protect minor-operated busin...
Bridger Beal-Cvetko

Forget big business, Utah lawmaker wants to deregulate … lemonade stands?

Utah leaders regularly tout the state as one of the nation's most "business-friendly," and on Tuesday advanced a bill to remove regulations for some of the smallest businesses out there: lemonade stands.
18 hours ago
Karah Brackin

Jordan School District in need of 40 employees

The district said they are down dozens of part-time and full-time custodial staff who are stretching themselves thin.
18 hours ago
Karah Brackin

Troopers advise caution after rough start to the year on Utah’s roads

UHP says it's seeing an uptick in wrong-way driving after one person was killed in Salt Lake County Wednesday morning. KSL TV is also learning more about the man who died in an auto-pedestrian crash Tuesday.
18 hours ago
(Marc Weaver/KSL TV)...
Josh Ellis

Woman found dead near St. George gas station; police investigating death as ‘suspicious’

Police say a woman died Wednesday morning near a St. George convenience store, and officers say they are investigating the death as "suspicious."
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
UHP ‘outreach’ troopers help Minnesota family find long-lost loved one