Utah trooper reunites with doctor who saved his life 44 years ago

Jan 18, 2023, 6:44 PM | Updated: 7:29 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly 45 years ago, Utah Highway Patrol trooper Ralph Evans was on his way to a routine traffic accident when he was flagged down by two girls near Lagoon. They said they had been assaulted by a man in a Jeep parked a short distance down the road.

While Evans was handcuffing the man — who was intoxicated — the man’s 13-year-old son shot Evans twice, once in the neck and once in the lower back.

“I tried to move and I couldn’t move … but I could feel blood coming out of my head,” Evans recalled Wednesday. “And as I lay there wondering what was going to happen, if I was going to die, I heard somebody say, ‘I’m a doctor and I’ll do all I can to help you.'”

Stanley Green had happened upon the scene shortly after Evans was shot, while he was on his way to the airport with his family. Although Green didn’t need to be at the airport for another three hours, he said he and his wife both felt prompted that they needed to leave early that day.

“I still look back at that time as being a kind of a miracle both in my life and I think in his life, because we both felt like we should leave three hours early to go to the airport,” Green said. “Had we been a few minutes late, he would have been dead. Had we been a few minutes early, he would have been dead. … I still remember that. I don’t remember everything in my life, but I still remember that.”

After nearly 45 years, Green and Evans reunited for the first time recently, and both received citations from the Utah Legislature on Wednesday. In an interview after appearing on the floors of the Utah House and Senate, Evans said he appreciates the citation, but feels that Green deserves all of the credit for saving his life.

“If Dr. Green hadn’t got there just when he did, I’d have bled out,” Evans said. “What do you give someone who saves your life? I offered him anything I could give him. … Green gave me 44 years. By all rights, I shouldn’t be here.”

“The crossing of these two paths was a true miracle, and we recognize Dr. Green for his heroic actions,” the citation from the Utah Legislature says.

The pair was reunited after Evans appeared on the WAM Safety podcast, and host Wendy Jensen-Nicholls worked to put them in touch. Green said despite the time passed, it felt like seeing an old friend for the first time in decades.

“When I first saw, I felt like I had known him and we were best friends,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like the 45 years collapsed to nothing.”

Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, is a longtime friend of Green, and he grew emotional when the men accepted their citation.

“I haven’t seen you for a long lifespan, but I do remember the act of courage and kindness … when this took place years ago,” Stevenson said. “I just want you to know that I consider you a dear friend.”

Months after he was shot on Oct. 7, 1978, Evans returned to service after recovering from his injuries. On his first patrol, he was traveling the same stretch of road and caught a car speeding in almost the exact same area where he had been shot.

“The car pulled over within 50 feet of where I’d been shot,” he recalled. “The very first stop I made after I went back to work was within 50 feet of where I’d been shot. What are the odds? But it didn’t bother me. I said, ‘Hey, it’s the job. You’ve got to do it. Somebody has to do it.’ So I stopped the car, went out and took care of business.”

Green said he hopes the story serves as a reminder for people to look out for and care for those around them.

“What I would hope they would take is the fact that they need to listen to the spirit,” he said. “If you see something, you should stop and try to help. We never should pass on. We should always try to help everyone and all of us can do things to change society.”

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Utah trooper reunites with doctor who saved his life 44 years ago