A half-dozen officers from the Kaysville Police Department continued to heal Friday from injuries sustained Thursday while trying to save a man who lit himself on fire inside a convenience store.
But Chief Solomon Oberg said the mental and emotional wounds may take longer to mend than the physical injuries.
Just before 2 p.m. Thursday, a man walked into Chevron Top Stop, 320 W. 200 North, which is also a McDonald's restaurant. He purchased a gas can, went outside to fill it up, then returned to the store, doused himself with the gasoline and threatened to light it, police say.
Officers were called and arrived at the store in minutes, before the man set himself on fire, the chief said. The man, who at one point had run into the store bathroom, came out and confronted the officers in the main store area, he said.
For the man's safety, and the protection of other customers and employees in the store, the officers went "hands on" to try and get the lighter away from him, Oberg said.
The officer who ended up having the worst injuries slipped and fell while struggling with the man.
"One of our officers had fallen down in some gasoline as he was trying to subdue this man. He got fuel on his uniform and that caused some of the burning," Oberg said.
When the man was able to use his lighter, "I think it was just a big burst of flame," the chief said.
Officers were able to drag the man outside the store and quickly extinguish the flames. But several officers suffered burns and smoke inhalation injuries during the initial burst of fire.
confirmed Thursday afternoon.
Police said Thursday that four officers had been hospitalized. Oberg updated that number Friday, saying six officers - five men and one woman - were treated by doctors at hospitals.
The officer with the worst injuries is being treated at the burn unit at University Hospital for burns on his legs and back, Oberg said. He is expected to remain in the hospital for about 10 days. Hospital officials said he was listed in fair condition late Thursday.
Another officer who suffered burns on both of his arms and his face was released from the hospital Thursday night, but will be "off for a while," the chief said.
Two officers, a man and a woman, were "briefly on fire" and suffered superficial burns in addition to smoke inhalation, he said.
"I could see his shirt around his shoulder area was burned," he said of the male officer.
Two other officers were checked for smoke inhalation. They ended up driving themselves to a hospital.
The man who set himself on fire, Tyler Ivison, 26, remained at University Hospital Friday in critical condition. Police originally misidentified Ivison as being 45.
One of the officers involved in the incident was back on the job Friday, the chief said. Some of the others are expected to take a couple of days off. Oberg noted that his staff was already short-handed due to spring break and several vacations this week.
"Just another challenge," he said. "We're still moving forward."
As difficult as the incident was for his officers, Oberg said he's proud of what they did.
"I feel a lot of pride in the fact that these officers, without hesitation, responded to an emergency to save not only this suicidal person but a lot of other people in what could have been literally an explosive situation here," he said.