Man who died saving woman from icy reservoir was a Salt Lake County deputy
Jan 31, 2024, 3:23 PM | Updated: Feb 1, 2024, 6:33 am
TOOELE — The man who died Monday while rescuing a woman who fell through the ice at Settlement Canyon Reservoir was a deputy with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and his final act was pushing a woman out of the water.
He was identified Wednesday as 20-year-old Emaloni Takitoa Lutui, of Taylorsville, who graduated from the sheriff’s academy just a few weeks ago.
“We are heartbroken with the loss of deputy Lutui. He displayed extraordinary courage and selflessness in the face of immediate danger,” Sheriff Rosie Rivera said. “His unwavering commitment to the well-being of others is a true testament of his character. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”
She said he bravely sacrificed his life to save the woman. She went to Lutui’s home to speak with his family and found brothers, sisters, cousins and aunts. She said he came from a close family and leaves behind a little son.
“When I talked to his mom she said he’s where he needs to be and he’s going to be watching over all of us,” Rivera said. “Incredible family.”
Cpl. Colbey Bentley with the Tooele Police Department said the woman who fell in made the call for emergency help.
“They knew each other,” Bentley said. “They were here walking around the area, almost on a little hike.”
Bentley said they were just a couple of feet from the bank when they went in and both fell in together.
“There was some sort of conversation between the two where they had decided to try and shed their coats and shoes to try and alleviate some weight from dragging them under … Mr. Lutui was able to save the life of that female,” he said.
“As his last gesture, he was able to get her out. Had it not been for him, we probably would have had two fatalities here … He was able to grab ahold of her legs and he was able to push her up and out onto the ice and onto the bank, it was shortly after that the Mr. Lutui passed away,” Bentley said.
“Truly a last heroic effort, a sacrifice that, whether he realized or not that he wasn’t going to make it, he made sure that she made it,” Bentley said. “It’s pretty inspiring.”
“When you’re a young officer, you’re hoping for an opportunity to save someone’s life and as you go on it may happen and it may not,” Rivera said. “It’s how you treat people that’s how you change lives.”
His body was recovered that night at approximately 11:20 p.m. Monday.
Lutui graduated from the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office Academy on Jan. 11.
“We want to hire people that have compassion and empathy and people who just want to care about our communities and he was perfect example of that,” Rivera said. “He really wanted to do that type of work and he was good at it already.”
“I think his final moments just showed that us, (those) that carry this badge, care about communities and we know that we could be in a situation where we are required to save a life and give our life, and that’s what this badge really represents,” Rivera said.
The woman, in her 20s, was taken to a hospital and treated for exposure. She has not been identified.