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Rally of Facebook support for deputy battling COVID-19

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Friends and strangers are rallying support on social media Tuesday night for a Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy who is battling COVID-19 in the hospital. 

Dustin Draper has been a deputy with Salt Lake County for 18 years, working in the Protective Services Division. 

Others know him for the non-profit work he did with his wife at Havoc K9, training police service dogs. 

Now, his friends hope he feels their strength and support.

Deputy Dustin Draper with a dog.

“Everybody loves Ricki and Dustin,” said Natalie Lynn, a close family friend who helped lead the K9 training non-profit.

Ricki and Dustin Draper know a lot of people in law enforcement because of Dustin’s job, and also, Havoc K9.

“The whole mission was towards providing K9s to police departments that didn’t have the funds to obtain a K9,” said Lynn.

They donated 21 police service dogs to departments in Utah and elsewhere before unwinding the business several years ago, according to Lynn.

Dustin Draper with a K9 named Helo.

She said the Drapers got sick a couple of weeks ago.

“They had both not felt well, and then, I understand, tested positive for COVID,” said Lynn.

Ricki Draper texted that she and her husband had appointments to get vaccinated when they were exposed last month. 

Ricki got better and Dustin was hospitalized Sept. 30. 

As recently as Sunday, doctors thought he might go home soon, but his organs began to fail.

“The ICU doctor had given a call to Ricki and let her know that he needed to be placed on a ventilator and that things were becoming extremely serious,” said Lynn.

Supporters for the couple and their adult children are coming together on Facebook for prayer and fasting. 

They have also set up a GoFundMe* account.

“As much as they’ve served and given for so many years, I think it’s time that we rally around, and we’re the ones serving them,” said Lynn.

They’re raising hope for their fun-loving friend with a big heart.

“If somebody was struggling in the way that Dustin is struggling now, he not only would step up and do what many people are doing for him and his family right now, but he would ask, what more? What more can I do?”

In a text, Ricki Draper stated that her husband is her everything, her soulmate and her fighter. 

She’s thankful for the love people have shown.

Ricki and Dustin Draper.

*KSL-TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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