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Wildlife Resources Emergency Assistance Team – Heroism

DNR WREA TeamRecipient of a 2014 Governor’s Award for Excellence

On September 4, 2013, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Conservation Officers Dennis Shumway, TJ Robertson, Sgt Ben Wolford and Lt. Justin Shirley, helped save a man’s life.

The officers and other division employees were on the La Sal mountain range east of Moab.  They were working on releasing rocky mountain goats that were being transplanted to the mountain range to establish a new population.  As the officers were working, a man came running up to them, reporting that his friend, Hugo Macha, had been attacked by a bull elk.

The officers responded, located the injured man and determined that he had suffered puncture wounds to the chest, back and thigh.  The man’s lung was also punctured and his shoulder was dislocated.  One of the officers, Dennis Shumway, a fluent Spanish speaker, was able to un-ravel the bizarre tale.  The day before, Macha was quietly sitting in some brush in the shade shen a bull elk walked very close to him.  He stood up quickly and believed the elk would be frightened away.  The elk gave chase and knocked him to the ground, goring him several times before leaving the area.

Macha walked several miles and found a fellow sheepherder.  This friend left Macha and found DWR employees to report the attach and seek medical assistance.  Sgt. Ben Wolford, an advanced EMT, was able to stabilize Macha by administering a saline IV, oxygen and bandaging.  A medical  helicopter was called to airlift Macha from the scene.  The officers assisted the flight team in carrying the patient and with the other procedures, and served as a translator for the patient.  Macha recovered in a hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The officers’ assessment of the situation, timely interventions and expertise were exceptional and they are well deserving of the Governor’s Award for Heriosm.


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