Bill Orton


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Former Utah congressman Bill Orton died in an ATV accident when his machine flipped over on a sand dune at Little Sahara Recreation Area. He was 60.

Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme told The Associated Press that Orton died almost immediately of his injuries about 4 p.m. Saturday.

Orton, a Democrat, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1997. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for Utah governor in 2000.

Orme said Orton was riding alone when his all-terrain vehicle crested a sand dune and the machine crashed, flipping over on him.

His body was taken by ambulance to Central Valley Medical Center in Nephi. An autopsy is pending.

Orton, who was wearing a helmet, was among thousands of four-wheel enthusiasts at the popular park, "a fun but dangerous place to ride," the sheriff said.

"Out there, it's a lot of rolling hills. He went off a sand dune without realizing how far down he was going," he said.

Injuries are common. Orme said several other riders Saturday were involved in crashes or collisions, and more than two dozen were injured last weekend, when five had to be airlifted by medical helicopters to hospitals.

Former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt, a Republican, said in a statement that he joins the state of Utah in mourning the death of Orton, who he met nearly 40 years ago.

"Outside the glare of politics I had occasions to observe him as a missionary, father, husband and lawyer. He did them all in a noble and gentlemanly way," said Leavitt.

Leavitt served as Utah's governor from 1993 to 2003 and defeated Orton in his bid for the governorship in 2000.

University of Utah law professor Scott Matheson, a Democratic figure who knew Orton well, called his death "shocking and tragic."

"Bill was very smart and capable. He was a dedicated public servant and continued to have much public service to offer," Matheson said. "Voters in the most Republican district in the country thought so much of his talents that they elected him as a Democrat to Congress three times. He worked hard and effectively on their behalf."

Orton is survived by his wife, Jacquelyn, and two sons, Will and Wes.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Jacquelyn and the Orton children at this difficult time," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement late Saturday.

"He was a dedicated public servant who worked to serve his constituents to the very best of his ability. He loved his family greatly and he also loved our wonderful state. He will be missed by many for his knowledge and experience, including me," Hatch said.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press

Guest Book

Not sure what to say?

My sister and I met congressman Orton and his family on an airplane flight to Utah after attending President Obama's first inauguration. They were very nice people. I pray that Mrs. Orton and her sons are doing well today.

(Psalm 89:48) What able-bodied man is there alive who will not see death?

To the family of Bill Orton,
I am deeply saddened for the loss you and your family have suffered. I’ve often found comfort from reading the Bible and I’m writing to share an important thought with you. You would no doubt agree that regardless of our background, we all face many of the same difficulties in today’s world; one being the death of a loved one.
Many have been told that God “takes” our loved ones, but that is not true. We were born in a system in which everyone- both the...

Dear Orton Family,
Remember Elder Orton from his missionary days in Lebanon, Oregon. Deep sympathy to your family.
Denise Barrett, Las Cruces, NM

May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow. I worked as an Intern at his office in DC in 1994 he was a good person. You and your family will be in my prayers.

As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.

My you find comfort in family and friends,
God promise that he will wipe out every tear from our eyes in death will be no more,neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.

May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.

I send my heartfelt condolences to the Orton family. May Our Father In Heaven confort you and ease your grief.

Miss Jacquelyn, Will and Wes:

I was saddened to learn of Bill's death on 4-19-2009. I remember when Bill ran for Congressman in Utah's 3rd District in November 1990. My late wife and I voted for Bill every time he ran for office. We thought the world of you all and loved you all dearly. On January 2009, I talked to Bill and invited you all to ride with me in the 'DAYS OF 47 PARADE' in my late wife's antique car. I was thrilled when you all accepted my offer. I sure enjoyed talking...