‘Puzzled’ describes one St. George police officer’s journey in aftermath of infant rescue

Officers work to rescue an 18-month-old 'Baby Lily' from an overturned vehicle partially submerged in the Spanish Fork River, Spanish Fork, March 7, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Spanish Fork Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Six years after releasing a bestselling book about the rescue of a baby and divine intervention, one of the officers involved released a second book summarizing the struggles inherent in law enforcement today.

Tyler Beddoes’ newly released book entitled “Puzzled: The Impact of Policing in Today’s America and How One Police Officer Learned to Overcome the Anguish | Photo courtesy of Amazon, St. George News

Tyler Beddoes knew he was destined to become a police officer, a role he identified with since his childhood in Spanish Fork, and a vocation that would often bring him face to face with the evil in the world.

It was also through those struggles, he said, that he learned how to face the darkness head-on, and hope began to take hold. It was during that journey through darkness, as well as the light he found at the end, that inspired him to write a book as a means to help others and to bring a message of hope and reconciliation for those who find themselves in a dark abyss.

The recently released book, “Puzzled: The Impact of Policing in Today’s America and How One Police Officer Learned to Overcome the Anguish” is the journey that began with a tragedy that was followed by a divine intervention that took place during the rescue of a toddler, followed by a tumultuous summer of riots and civil unrest that shifted the landscape for police officers across the country.

Throughout the book, Beddoes, who currently serves in the St. George Police Department, outlines the anguish he felt during his struggles to make sense of the everchanging world he found himself in and the mental shift that took place that ultimately led him to a sustained perception filled with hope.

The book also includes an update on Lily Groesbeck, the toddler rescued from the frigid waters of the Spanish Fork River on March 7, 2015, where she had somehow survived 14 hours in partially submerged, overturned car.

The dramatic rescue was summarized in a bestselling book that Beddoes co-authored, along with Ptolemy Tompkins, a New York Times bestselling author entitled “Proof of Angels” an account of the events that took place that day in the freezing river where four officers were guided by the sound of a woman’s voice as they worked to free the baby from the wreckage – one that turned out to be from an otherworldly source.

One year before, a tragic incident took place in Spanish Fork that would prove to have a profound effect on the officer.

Into the dark abyss

Home on 630 West where quadruple homicide took place on in Spanish Fork on Jan. 17, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

Beddoes’ trek into darkness began with a tragic incident that was reported in Spanish Fork on Jan. 17, 2014, involving a Lindon Police Officer, 34-year-old Joshua Boren, who reportedly used his police-issued handgun to kill his wife, two children and his mother-in-law, before turning the gun on himself.

The dead officer’s life was wrought with multiple addictions, marital issues, childhood abuse and many other factors that may have played a role in the tragedy that would take the lives of an entire family, according to the months-long investigation covered by KSL News.

Beddoes was a Spanish Fork Police officer at the time of the incident that took place inside of the Boren’s residence, located less than a mile from the police department.

That incident, as well as the many issues surrounding the crime, was the beginning of the downward spiral into despair for Beddoes, and one that would change his life forever, he said.

Out of the darkness 

It was 14 months after the tragedy that left an entire family dead, he said, that the rescue took place – one that had a profound effect on the four officers involved, including Beddoes, whose life was forever changed as a result.

The incident took place on March 7, 2015, when a crash sent an SUV rolling into the Spanish Fork River, where it remained partially submerged and upside-down until a fisherman spotted the wreck and called 911, according to a KSL News report released shortly after the incident.

A video capturing the incident as it unfolded and released by the Spanish Fork Police Department at the time of the rescue can be viewed at the top of this report.  

During the rescue, a voice that seemingly came from inside of the car guided the four responding officers, one of whom was Beddoes, who said they could hear “Help me, help me,” and assumed it was the voice of the baby’s mother still trapped in the overturned car.

Officers work to rescue an 18-month-old girl from an overturned vehicle partially submerged in the Spanish Fork River, Spanish Fork, March 7, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Spanish Fork Police Department, St. George News

When they finally reached the pair, however, it was clear that only one was alive – the toddler. The mother was found deceased, and officers would later learn she was killed upon impact.

It was at that point the rescuers realized that the voice they had heard could not have come from Lily’s mother, since she was killed instantly, and surmised it must have come from some unearthly source.

Over time, they came to believe it was an angel that compelled them to complete the rescue of the little girl that was found suspended in a car seat locked in place in the rear passenger side vehicle. She was airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City and would later make a recovery that treating physicians could only describe as “remarkable.”

Beddoes said the rescue turned out to be a pivotal event that transformed his view on life, death and faith, and was what fueled a spiritual process that continued long after the four officers had pulled the child from the upside-down Dodge in the river that chilly winter day.

The experience changed him for the better, he said, but a summer of civil unrest sent the officer on a quest of a different kind, and made him question many aspects of his life.

Wave of civil unrest 

The protests and riots that gripped the country in 2020 forever changed the landscape of policing, and Beddoes said the summer of riots and protests also caused him to reflect on his occupation as a police officer in the ever-changing landscape of law enforcement. In many ways, he said, the events took place at a time when humanity was in a state of turmoil.

His pursuit to make sense of the world as he viewed it, through the eyes of a police officer, was wrought with challenges, he said, and it was through those trials that he was able to reconcile the past and find the inner strength to persevere. It also served as the catalyst that fueled the desire for Beddoes to be the voice for those who found themselves in a bleak chasm of hopelessness.

Resolving trauma and overcoming anguish

Tyler Beddoes, author of newly released book entitled “Puzzled: The Impact of Policing in Today’s America and How One Police Officer Learned to Overcome the Anguish,” date, location of photo not specified | Photo courtesy of Tyler Beddoes, St. George News

On a daily basis, officers encounter situations that vacillate between tragedies, arrests, rescues and endless confrontations with people at their worst, as well as the more malevolent forces out there – forces that can have a profound effect on an officer at times, Beddoes said.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into before becoming a police officer,” Beddoes said. “Nor was I aware of the detrimental changes that would later take hold.”

Amid the anguish he realized it wasn’t the suffering that ultimately defines a person – it is the ability to make the journey through the trauma and get to the other side.

“No one escapes the effects of that – no matter who they are or what their occupation is,” he added.

That is where hope comes in, he said, which turned out to be a byproduct of his quest to find the answers, and it was through his struggles as a police officer that he was able to find a sense of purpose.

To that end, Beddoes’ story is one of prevailing over the evil he encountered daily, balanced by the hope and optimism brought about by events that can only be described as miracles.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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