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Memory of 19-year-old who fell off cliff lives on through journal

Posted at 10:11 PM, Jun 16, 2024

HANKSVILLE, Utah — Sherrie Johnson has been down to Wayne County and Capitol Reef enough times that it could be considered her second home, but her recent trip was different.

On this trip, Sherrie crossed paths with a journal carrying the story of a person she'd heard of, but knew she'd never get the chance to meet. As Sherrie pulled off at her usual stop near a river off Highway 24, she saw a journal underneath a rock.

"Things just aligned that I'm the one that found it," Sherrie said.

As she picked up the journal, she found herself immersed in pages filled with writings from other travelers who'd also come across it — some short and sweet, others written with profoundness. As she read the entries, she realized this wasn't just a random journal. This journal was a memento to Jonathan Fielding's life. The 19-year-old died in January after he fell while taking photos near Moonscape Overlook in southern Utah.

"For some reason, even the first time I read Jonathan's story, knowing the area, it stuck with me," Sherrie said.

Sherrie knows what it's like to lose a loved one all too well. She's the aunt of Sgt. Derek Johnson, the Draper officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2013, which is why she decided to protect the journal in a gallon bag and go out of her way to find Jonathan's family.

"There's something in his pictures that resonates with me. There's a joy and a light in this young man, and I just believe that the same way that him and Derek lived: Be kind," Sherrie said. "After a little bit of research, I was able to find Rebecca Fielding, his sister."

"It was actually kind of cool when she messaged me because in that moment, just minutes before, I had been crying again because I was missing Jonathan," said Rebecca.

Rebecca originally left a journal near where her brother died shortly after his death alongside Takis, a Spiderman, and little toy babies. She replaced the journal in April as the old one was weathered. She says it's since taken on a life of its own.

"It just started slowly moving farther and farther away on its journey," Rebecca said.

Together, Rebecca, Sherrie, and Sherrie's friend came up with the idea to keep track of Jonathan's journal's journey. The trio created a Facebook group where people can post where they find the journal next and share what's been added inside.

"I printed off a picture of Jonathan and on the back just explained what Rebecca and I had created," Sherrie said. "I hope that this journey for his journal goes clear across this world."

"I think one thing that would also be awesome is if people find it, they think of Jonathan and how he lived his life, and try to go out and find other people to help," Rebecca said.

When Rebecca first spoke to FOX 13 News after Jonathan's death, she shared how much he loved adventure. The journal is a way for him to continue his adventures even though he's no longer here.

"It actually reminds me of a song from one of Jonathan's favorite albums by Lord Huron: 'Way Out There.' it talks about just being on this journey and how you can find him out there and he'll be wandering out there forever," Rebecca said.