Salt of Summit County
January 13, 2009
This community values the people who put on snow tires, the meteorologists who provide weather reports and the snowplow drivers keeping the roads clear. These peoples’ jobs help us get to our jobs in spite of the weather. Trooper Landon Middaugh’s job is to come when all that fails.
On days when regular people try to stay off the roads, or drive white-knuckled, praying their vehicle will stay on the road, Middaugh has to be in the thick of it looking for people in need of help.
It’s not because he has a better vehicle to battle the weather. Utah Highway Patrol cars just have rear-wheel drive. Snow tires and bags of sand in the trunk are the only thing keeping him from fishtailing on blustery days.
It’s definitely not because he likes the snow. He hangs his head every time a storm is predicted like every other driver. He also knows a lot of the people he’ll help that day were driving irresponsibly and caused the problem they’re in.
Middaugh patrols state roads during blizzards looking for people to help because that’s what Troopers do.
"Doing a lot of work is not so bad," he said. "Bad days are when people are injured. That makes me have a bad day."
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Covering all of Summit and Wasatch counties, Troopers based out of the station in Mayflower above Jordanelle Reservoir do a lot of driving on a typical day. Middaugh lives in Morgan and has to cross all of Summit just to check in at the office.
That distance makes being a first responder during a storm a stressful job. If he drives too fast to the site of a rollover, he may become a victim himself. But the motto he lives by is, "What if the person in need were my wife?"
his own definition, Christmas 2008 was a bad day. It snowed for 11 hours straight along the east-side of the Wasatch Mountains. Starting at 4 a.m., people from Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties, where the roads were clear, started venturing to visit family in the rural areas.
"People decided to visit grandma and grandpa and ruined Christmas," he said.
Patrolling the highways of Summit and Wasatch is also a beautiful job.
Middaugh started his career patrolling Echo Canyon and said growing up in Layton, he never imagined how he’d come to love the Uinta Mountains.
"There’s no place I’d rather work," he said.
People are also more grateful for his help in rural areas. People treat him like a savior when he stops to help with a routine tire change in the middle of nowhere.
Middaugh also understood the good, the bad and the ugly of being a Trooper when he started because his dad was one. After trying to chart his own course, he said he realized he wanted the lifestyle it provides.
"I enjoy that every day is different. I enjoy the job security my dad could always provide for us," he said.
When it’s not snowing, Middaugh keeps busy stopping speeders, drunk drivers and drug traffickers.
Unfortunately, due to the rapid growth of Summit and Wasatch, he also spends a great deal of time clearing building supplies that fell from unsecured loads off the road.