Stephens and the truck’s driver had finished unloading the garbage truck into a sorting bay at the transfer station before the accident occurred at approximately 9:36 a.m.
“The lift gate had been raised and the truck’s load had been pushed out of the cargo area of the truck. The truck had pulled forward and stopped when the lift gate was then lowered,” Lt. Kim Neal of the sheriff’s office, said in the news release.
“[Stephens] was between the lift gate and the rear of the truck when the lift gate was lowered and [he] was crushed,”
The accident is currently under investigation, sheriff’s department officials said.
Bob Hawks, owner of Bob’s Sanitation, said Stephens had been his employee for more than 20 years.
“He was a nice guy and a good family man,” Hawks said. “He was very efficient, very honest, trustworthy. He was dependable. He was a good hired hand and a good person besides. He’s going to be hard to replace.”
Hawks said the crew at Bob’s Sanitation is “like a family,” and Stephens’ death has been difficult for everyone.
“It’s a tough time,” he said.
Stephens also worked for the past several years at Gravel Pit Lanes bowling alley, and volunteerd with the Moab Valley Fire Department. Friends and coworkers said he loved to make others laugh, and enjoy a good laugh himself.
“He was a big joker,” said Helen Hawks, the office manager at Bob’s Sanitation. “He’d throw pennies at you in City Market if he saw you.”
Aimee Hutchinson, who worked with Stephens at Gravel Pit Lanes, described him as “inspirational.”
“Jay was very inspirational and had a great sense of humor,” Hutchinson said. “He could make anyone laugh.”
He was also devoted to his family.
“He would always show everyone pictures of his kids and grandkids. They were his pride and joy,” Hutchinson said, adding that she’d known Stephens since she was a child.
Stephens’ fellow firefighters in the Moab Valley Fire Department also fondly recalled his sense of humor, friendliness and dedication to the job.
“I have so many great memories of Jay,” said Chris Drake., a captain with the fire department. “As a firefighter, he was always wanting to learn all that he could to be the best he could be. I had the pleasure of having him on my crew a few times, and he was enthusiastic and dedicated, no matter what the task. As a friend, he put others before himself. Jay enjoyed bringing a smile to other people. I will miss him wishing me a happy birthday, a happy holiday and a new year. He never forgot. He was a devoted and proud father, grandfather and husband. He loved talking about his family. He will be dearly missed.”
Fellow firefighter Jared Snyder described Stephens as a “friend and brother.”
“Those of us at the Moab Valley Fire Department have lost a friend and brother,” Snyder wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. “May you look down on us and smile knowing we still have your back as we go in and we will always look in on your loved ones. It’s what we brothers do.”
Snyder’s post was one of dozens of messages of condolence left on Stephens’ Facebook page within hours of his unexpected death.
The Moab Fire Department expressed condolences to Stephens’ family in a statement posted June 10 on its website.
“We are all like family in the fire service, and we will all miss Jay Stephens dearly,” the post said.
Funeral services for Stephens will be held Friday, June 13, at 11 a.m. at the Moab LDS 400 North Chapel. Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Cemetery. A viewing will be held Thursday, June 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Spanish Valley Mortuary, 386 North 100 West in Moab.
Helen Hawks said an account has been set up at the Grand County Credit Union for Stephens’ family. Donations may be made to the Grand County Credit Union Jay Stephens Memorial Fund, account No. 6868, she said.