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Suspect caught after officer hit, killed by semi-truck near Santaquin

Posted at 8:49 AM, May 05, 2024

SANTAQUIN, Utah — A semi-truck driver suspected of hitting and killing a Santaquin police officer on Interstate 15 early Sunday was arrested after fleeing over 150 miles away.

Around 6 a.m., Utah Highway Patrol received a call reporting someone standing on the back of a semitrailer traveling north. A Santaquin police officer and UHP trooper located the truck 30 minutes later and performed a traffic stop on I-15 near mile marker 244.

Officers made contact with the driver, identified as 41-year-old Michael Aaron Jayne, who then fled the scene in the truck and headed northbound.

"The suspect made a U-turn, deliberately targeted the officers and intentionally hit both vehicles," updated information from the Spanish Fork Police Department states. "He struck the Santaquin officer, causing fatal injuries."

The police officer was declared dead at the scene after being struck, while Jayne fled the area on foot.

The officer was later publicly identified as Sgt. Billy Dean Hooser.

After fleeing from the scene, police said Jayne went to a nearby convenience store and stole another semi-truck and drove it to Mona, eventually abandoning it in the town.

Abandoning the semi-truck in Mona, officials report Jayne then stole a Ford F-150 as multiple units scoured the town, searching for him.

At that point, a "Blue Alert" was issued for Jayne. "Blue Alerts" are issued whenever a law enforcement officer is injured or killed.

The Ford pickup truck was later located in Mt. Pleasant, at which point, officials report that Jayne stole another vehicle in the area.

Jayne was later located near Vernal, and police engaged in a short pursuit before he crashed the stolen pickup. He was then taken into custody.

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Suspect Michael Jayne; Stolen pickup crashed on the side of Highway 40

A shelter-in-place order was issued for residents near Mona, but that order was lifted just before 10:15 a.m.

Utah Highway Patrol closed both the northbound and southbound lanes of I-15 as officers investigated the crash. It was later opened in both directions.

"Our entire department is hurt, and the family of the officer is hurt," Santaquin Police Lt. Mike Wall said through tears at a press conference. "Because of a senseless act by one individual, we have family members who will miss their father at their nearing wedding. But I can assure you that we as a police department will stand up and will be there, and we are one family."

VIDEO BELOW: Emotional moment as Lt. Wall speaks on the fallen officer

Emotional address from Santaquin PD lieutenant

"This loss is one of those difficult times that we will struggle with for some time, and we will do our best supporting each other, loving one another, and loving these men in blue that serve us every day," Santaquin Mayor Dan Olson added.

Later Sunday afternoon, dozens of police officers on motorcycles and in patrol vehicles escorted the body of the fallen officer on I-15 from the scene of the incident to the state medical examiner's office. (Video below via Rob Geertsen)

Procession in Draper

In a social media post, Gov. Spencer Cox expressed his condolences for the officer: "Devastating news from our law enforcement community this morning. Please keep this officer’s family in your prayers. Our hearts are broken and we give our unending gratitude to all those who protect and serve."

Cox later held a press conference, where he talked about what the tragedy means to Utah and expressed his gratitude for law enforcement officers. It can be viewed below:

Gov. Cox addresses fallen officer