MAGNA, Utah -- A Magna woman said she wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for a Unified Police officer who was killed on Sunday morning.
Officer Doug Barney died after police say 31-year-old Cory Lee Henderson shot him while trying to run from a crash in Holladay.
Among the people torn apart by his death, Kristy Saunders said the news hit her hard.
She hadn’t talked with Barney in a couple years, but Saunders said, he helped her turn her life around.
In her Magna home Tuesday, Saunders said he met Barney during a dark time in her life.
“I was having major suicidal thoughts,” she said.
Saunders explained she’d already attempted to take her life, and would often try to hurt herself.
Then, Barney as she called him, started coming in to a Taylorsville gas station where she worked at the time.
Small talk over the cash register turned into conversation.
“After about two months it was just pure friendship,” Saunders said. “He would come in, joke around.”
Barney would even come back later to make sure everyone left work safely.
“We’d look out there and he’s in his patrol car. And he’d make sure that we got in our vehicles, and he’d wave to us,” Saunders said.
One day, Barney noticed Saunders seemed off. She admitted she’d been thinking about how she no longer wanted to live.
She said Barney asked if she would come talk with him, and they sat in his patrol car.
“He says, ‘You know Kristy, I just found out that I was sick,’” She recounted. “And he goes, ‘but you know what? I’m going to fight, because I want to be around for my kids.’ He says, ‘I want to be around and grow old with my wife.’”
He went on to tell her to get past this.
'"You're a strong, beautiful woman and you will find your way in life,’” Saunders remembered Barney saying.
Those words sparked something in her heart, and gave Saunders the will to keep going.
That conversation changed her.
“He saved my life,” Saunders said.
That conversation happened four and a half years ago. Now, Saunders is engaged and raising her four children.
She still thinks about that conversation, and said, “I never had the chance to thank him.”
With Barney’s death, Saunders can’t help but think of his kindness -- how Barney was more than just a customer and officer, he was a friend.
Looking back on it now, she said he probably never truly knew the impact he had on the lives around him.
“I miss you Barney,” Saunders said, tears welling in her eyes. “May you rest in peace.”
A candlelight vigil for Barney and injured Officer Jon Richey will take place Wednesday from 6 to 10 p.m. at Holladay City Hall.
Barney’s funeral is planned for Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. at the Maverick Center.
Saunders hopes to attend both events to pay tribute to Barney and help honor his life.