Communities in Utah, Nevada mourn medical crew killed in plane crash

Posted at 9:46 PM, Nov 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-20 01:07:42-05

ELKO, Nevada -- We're learning more about two of the four victims who died in an American Medflight plane crash in Elko, Nevada Friday.

Jake Shepherd and Tiffany Urresti were both medical staff on board the aircraft.

Shepherd was from Utah and worked part-time as a paramedic for Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele. Those who knew and worked with him described Shepherd as a devoted public servant, known for his caring attitude.

"He had a big heart," said Joe Carnell, Ambulance Director with Mountain West. "He was dedicated to his community, he was dedicated to the public."

Carnell said Shepherd was known for his personality and jokes.

"He made everyone smile, laugh," he said. "You'd show up on shift with him, and you were laughing for the next two days."

There's so much to remember about Shepherd. His Mountain West crew spent days at a time with him for the past five years.

"He lived in the station, slept in the station, ate with the crews," Carnell said, of the two-day shifts. "As soon as someone called 911 and needed him, he would be the first one out the door."

Shepherd's public service went beyond his EMT skills. He worked in the Tooele jail for a short time two years ago.

Lieutenant Ray Clinton with the Tooele County Sheriff's Office said Shepherd lived in Logan and commuted.

"This is the community that he loved," he said. "It's going to be tough on the community because he was so well liked."

More recently, Carnell said, Shepherd had been working to complete his Critical Care Paramedic certification and worked in Nevada weekly, flying with a critical care transport team. That was on top of working part-time in Tooele.

Plus, Shepherd was raising a family. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

While they focus on grieving, the City of Elko Fire Department is also left remembering one of their own.

In addition to her medical duties, Tiffany Urresti served as a volunteer firefighter for the very organization that responded to the plane crash.

Elko Fire Chief Matthew Griego said he's known Tiffany her entire life.

"Her and her family have served Elko for a number of years, her dad Jimmy's been with the department 30 years," Chief Griego said, tearing up as he talked. "So, it hits home."

Greigo said Urresti had just gotten engaged.

Both her and Shepherd, tough losses to cope with, especially as each department carries on the public service that the two were known for.

A fundraising page has been set up to help Shepherd's family.