Utah Division of Wildlife Resources' conservation officer Jon (Kip) Draper was found dead about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday in Straight Canyon near Orangeville. He was reported missing by his family about 11 p.m. Saturday evening and a search was immediately launched by UDWR and the Emery County Sheriff's office. UDWR employees located Draper about 50 yards from the canyon road, where he had collapsed and died in the snow. No indication of foul play existed; however, the State Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Rudy Musclow, Chief of UDWR's Law Enforcement, says Draper was believed to have been conducting a routine check of trapping activity in Straight Canyon. "Kip will be missed by his co-workers, friends and family. He was an outstanding conservation officer," Musclow said.
Draper began his career in natural resource management in the Northwest, and has worked for UDWR for the last three years. Draper is survived by his wife, and their five children, ranging from 3 to 14 years of age.
Det. Sgt. Robert Blackburn and Sgt. Norm Vuksinick from the Emery County Sheriff's Office investigated the scene, according to Blackburn when the DWR found Draper they paged the ambulance and he was taken to Castleview Hospital in Price. "We investigated the scene and didn't find anything suspicious. There wasn't a sign of a struggle or any thrashing around in the snow. It appeared he didn't suffer. We didn't detect any foul play, but the medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death. We believe he died before dark, because it is DWR policy that no trap lines be checked on after dark. He also was not carrying a flashlight. The only fresh tracks at the scene were those from Officer Draper," said Blackburn.