On April 16, 2012, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer James Schoeffler was on routine patrol on the Pleasant Grove Ranger District which is located on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. While on foot patrol in a popular recreation area located off Big Springs Trail in Provo Canyon, Schoeffler observed a trip wire that was barely visible along a trail. He then traced out the trip line and found a primitive type “booby trap” that was set to activate when the line was “tripped.” The device consisted of a large rock fashioned with sharpened sticks to create a large spiked ball that would potentially hit an unsuspected victim in the chest or head. Schoeffler quickly dismantled the trap and continued to check the area. During his search he discovered another trip line that was designated to send an individual falling onto a bed of sharpened wooden spikes protruding from the ground. Schoeffler dismantled this “booby trap” as well.
It was Schoeffler’s sharp eyesight, knowledge and good timing that kept someone from wandering into the traps, located about a half mile from the recreation area’s parking lot. These traps could have easily severely injured, maimed, or even killed someone recreating in the area. It just so happens that a child’s birthday party was being celebrated in the area on the day that Schoeffler discovered the traps.
Officer Schoeffler immediately notified the local Sheriff’s Office and two individuals were later arrested and charged with setting the “booby traps.” They told Utah County sheriff’s deputies that they wanted to catch a wild boar, or bunnies.
On Sept. 12, Officer James Schoeffler received the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary’s Honor Award for Heroism and Emergency Response.
Schoeffler is a combat veteran with multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is specifically trained in explosives and ordinance disposal. The discovery of these devices is greatly attributed to his military training and combat experience. These heroic actions are a great reflection upon James Schoeffler’s dedication to his work as a U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer.