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Couple dies in Joe's Valley area


The West Valley couple tried to take this passenger car over Joe's Valley to Ephraim.

On the afternoon of Jan. 29 about 5 p.m. the Emery County dispatch was notified of an abandoned vehicle on SR29 that travels from Orangeville to Ephraim. The road is gravel and impassable during the winter months from just west of Joe's Valley reservoir to just east of Ephraim.

It was reported the vehicle was either stuck or broken down in the middle of the road. They reported no one around the vehicle. The vehicle was approximately four miles into Sanpete County.

The Emery County Sheriff's Office notified the US Forest Service Officer Don Riddle on Tues. Jan. 30 he went to the area and obtained a license plate from the vehicle. The vehicle was registered to Elton Reed and Loa Fae Palmer of West Valley City. The Palmers were both 74 years old.

The West Valley City police department attempted to make contact with the Palmers at their residence, but were unsuccessful.

Sgt. Gayle Jensen after talking to the USFS officer traveled to the area to further check the vehicle. He located two sets of tracks going away from the vehicle towards Ephraim. Sgt. Jensen followed the tracks for approximately three quarters of a mile. He requested help. Deputy Casey Alton, Sgt. Bliss Mead and the communications supervisor, Bret Mills traveled to the area with a snow cat and snowmobiles.

During a search of the area they were able to locate the bodies of Elton and Loa Fae Palmer. Reed Palmer was 3.5 miles west of the vehicle and Loa Fae Palmer was located 3 miles west of the vehicle. They were three miles from Joe's Valley it is unknown why the couple started walking up the road. The bodies were recovered and taken to a local mortuary.

The sheriff's office said the vehicle had plenty of gas, it is not known why the couple didn't stay with their vehicle.

Sheriff LaMar Guymon was very disturbed by the incident. "I just can't stress enough how important it is to let someone know your itinerary. Let people know when you leave and when you will arrive at your destination. Call and let someone know you have arrived. In this case, it is not known why the couple tried to go over Joe's Valley. They should have talked to someone about their intended route.

"We never received a phone call from the family on Sunday night and this couple was never reported as missing. The abandoned vehicle was the first sign that anything was amiss. By then, it was too late. We are speculating the couple died that first night, Sunday. But we don't know for sure. This is just heart wrenching. Something like this shouldn't happen. We do everything in our power to find people when we know they are missing. But, in this case, we had no reports of missing persons. If you ever find yourself stuck in your vehicle, just remain with your vehicle. Sooner or later you will be reported missing. We are baffled when incidents like this take place. It just breaks your heart," said Sheriff Guymon.

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