LOCAL NEWS

Sandy City Mourns Unexpected Death Of Police Chief Bill O’Neal

Jan 13, 2020, 6:12 PM | Updated: 7:19 pm

SANDY, Utah – Sandy City was mourning the passing of Police Chief Bill O’Neal, who died unexpectedly Sunday afternoon.

The Utah Fraternal Order of Police reported 48-year-old O’Neal had died from a heart attack.

Flags flew all around Sandy City Hall on Monday and the police department in memory of O’Neal.

His closest friends said his legacy will live on for a long time to come.

“You don’t see cops cry a lot, but there were a lot of tears today,” said Sergeant Jason Nielsen with the Sandy City Police Department.

Nielsen said O’Neal was the type of guy everybody respected and maybe, more importantly, the type of guy everybody liked.

“If I were to go into the fires of hell I would follow him because I know he would bring me back,” said Nielsen.

This year would have marked O’Neal’s 25th year with the Sandy City Police Department.

He rose through the ranks from officer to sergeant, captain, and later, deputy chief, before becoming chief in 2018.

“He’s an icon of the police department,” Nielsen said.

Troy Rasmussen worked alongside O’Neal for 14 years. The two have been good friends for 25 years.

“I would just call him for advice,” Rasmussen said. “He was just that type of friend. Always there to lend an ear. Yeah, he’ll be missed.”

Rasmussen said O’Neal’s first priority was his family, especially his three children.

His profession was a close second.

“I think his compassion and his instant likability made him a great chief,” Rasmussen said. “He just would connect with people whether it was somebody he just met or a good friend, he would just connect.”

Rasmussen and O’Neal were two of the officers who found Elizabeth Smart in 2003 while she was walking along State Street with her captors.

“It’s always a big day when you save somebody’s life,” Rasmussen said.

Elizabeth’s rescue stuck with O’Neal from that moment on.

“Being able to rescue her was a monumental thing in our careers,” O’Neal said during an interview in 2013. “When she was talking I could see her teeth and from the fliers and the smile, I recognized her teeth. I know that sounds strange and that’s when it hit me. Wow, this is Elizabeth Smart.”

Elizabeth Smart released this statement about O’Neal, saying:

“I am profoundly grateful for the courage and bravery of the law enforcement officers, especially Chief Bill O’Neal, who responded to the call and helped rescue me almost 17 years ago. Chief O’Neal was a leader who provided tremendous service to our community for nearly 25 years. I express my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”

Deputy Chief Greg Severson will act as interim chief.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Casey Scott gives away gas cards on Feb. 23, 2024. (KSL TV)...

Casey Scott

Casey Scott surprises drivers with free gas cards on Friday

Casey Scott is back from vacation and ready to finish the week strong with some gas card giveaways!

1 hour ago

Fewer than two in five people in the US have gotten the flu vaccine this season, according to CDC e...

Kiersten Nunez

Utah faces unusual flu season with third pediatric death

The latest update from Utah Department of Health shows a third child has succumbed to influenza during the current season. Health experts are raising concerns over the unusual patterns the state is seeing this year.

2 hours ago

Utah lawmakers have advanced a bill that would prohibit the Utah attorney general from engaging in ...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Legislature seeks to bar attorney general from private law practice while in office

Lawmakers have advanced a bill that would prohibit the state attorney general from engaging in private practice while in office.

2 hours ago

Police say a man was injured after he illegally crossed a Salt Lake City road Thursday night. (KSL ...

Josh Ellis

Man seriously injured after crossing SLC street, police say

A man was hospitalized with serious but not life-threatening injuries after he was hit by a truck Thursday night.

7 hours ago

Homeowner Mark Shea tells KSL’s Matt Gephardt he paid someone to build a deck who abandoned the j...

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Homeowners ask why authorities can’t shut down an unlicensed contractor

Two Salt Lake County homeowners hired and paid someone to build decks for their homes but say he left the jobs unfinished. Turns out, he’s been cited by the state for not having a contractor’s license before.

16 hours ago

Tony Arriaga, owner of Beehive Gloves, creating and relacing baseball gloves at his work desk....

Brianna Chavez

West Valley City business asking for used gloves to repurpose and donate

A West Valley City business is hoping to give back to the community by giving new life to old baseball and softball gloves.

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Sandy City Mourns Unexpected Death Of Police Chief Bill O’Neal