Salt Lake County deputy to be laid to rest
Feb 9, 2024, 7:17 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2024, 11:32 am
WEST VALLEY CITY — A Salt Lake County Deputy will soon be laid to rest.
Twenty-year-old Emaloni Takitoa Lutui died rescuing his girlfriend from a frozen lake on Monday, Jan. 29.
“We want it to be the best so we’ve just been trying to prepare,” said Meliani Tonga Mila, Lutui’s aunt.
“We’re trying to focus on Loni, he was only 20 but accomplished so much.”
On Monday, January 29, Lutui was finishing a hike with his girlfriend when she fell through the ice at Settlement Canyon Reservoir around 7 p.m., according to family members.
Lutui jumped into the frozen water and rescued her but he never resurfaced. His body was recovered a few hours later by search and rescue crews shortly after 11 p.m.
“I don’t think there was any hesitation,” Mila said. “It’s been healing for everyone to understand [that] he would’ve done that for anyone. The fact that he did it for her, we hope that she can find peace in that, that was his last act of love for her.”
In respecting Loni’s Tongan heritage, his aunt and loved ones are preparing for his funeral services. They will be held at the Latter-day Saint meetinghouse located at 12154 South 3600 West in Riverton.
Loni’s dream of helping others came true just weeks before his death. He graduated from the sheriff’s academy on January 11 and was hired as a deputy for the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office. He was working at the jail and training to be a corrections officer.
“He didn’t ask for much, he quietly served, he never wanted recognition,” Mila said. “Planning this was also hard, trying to make sure we incorporated our cultural ties but also stayed true to him, he was very simple.”
But tomorrow they’ll honor his sacrifice as they say their last goodbyes.
“It’s him that would pull everyone together, he was such a sweet spirit,” Mila said. “We can really feel everyone pushing from the other side, just so much help.”
Lutui is survived by two brothers and three sisters, his parents, and a young son.
A family viewing will be held from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. A funeral service will be held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at 12154 South 3600 West in Riverton. The public is welcome to attend.
A burial service will be held at Valley View Cemetery in West Valley City, located at 4335 W 4100 S.
A GoFundMe* is available to assist with funeral costs.
*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 advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.