A rookie deputy in Utah died Monday after saving his girlfriend, who fell through the ice at a reservoir.
Salt Lake County Deputy Emaloni Takitoa Lutui was with his girlfriend at Settlement Canyon Reservoir, and the couple was near the bank when they both fell through the ice and into the water, KSL-TV reports. According to Tooele Police Cpl. Colbey Bentley, the two were able to remove their shoes and some of their clothing, and that gave Lutui a chance to push his girlfriend out of the water.
"He was able to grab a hold 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 Mr. Lutui passed away," said Bentley. "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. It's pretty inspiring."
Lutui was a rookie member of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, having graduated from the academy Jan. 11. He had been training as a corrections officer.
"We are heartbroken with the loss of deputy Lutui. He displayed extraordinary courage and selflessness in the face of immediate danger," said Sheriff Rosie Rivera during a news conference. "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."
Rivera said she had met with Lutui's family, who told her how much it meant for him to be a deputy. She said that Lutui was committed to serving people, and his final act was a courageous one, saving the life of someone he loved.
"It was very heroic of him," said Rivera. "He just loved her and wanted to make sure she was out, and it's hard to know what happened during those moments. We're incredibly proud of him and at the same time he will be missed."