Search and rescue workers were hungry and exhausted when this Utah restaurant responded

Kim Houtz, owner of Dairy Keen, chats with Andrea Buhl after taking her order from Dairy Keen in Heber on Tuesday. Houtz made 50 cheeseburgers and 50 ham sandwiches for Wasatch County Search and Rescue on Sunday, when Dairy Keen is usually closed. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

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HEBER CITY – Local burger joint Dairy Keen is not usually open on Sundays. But last Sunday, the figurative ox was in the mud.

Jan Olpin, whose family has owned and operated Dairy Keen since 1946, said his sister received a text message while sitting in church: Wasatch County Search and Rescue had helped search for Colby Sheriff, 34, since his disappearance on July 28. And after working all weekend, they could really, really use burgers.

Olpin’s family did not hesitate. They learned around 11 a.m. that the researchers needed lunch, and by noon they had prepared 50 cheeseburgers and 50 ham and cheese sandwiches, the latter for the researchers who would not be returning to town until later, Olpin said.

The sheriff’s body was found around 6 p.m. that day about 1.5 miles from his car. He had last been seen near the Daniels Summit Lodge. The state medical examiner will now determine the sheriff’s cause of death.

Food was especially needed after two consecutive all-night searches, Wasatch County Search and Rescue Team Commander Kam Kohler said.

The search team consisted of about 60 civilians and about 60 search and rescue professionals from Wasatch, Davis, Summit and Utah counties, he said. And on Sunday, their professional researchers were operating with about two hours of sleep.

Kim Houtz, owner of Dairy Keen, shakes hands with Betsy Ricks outside Dairy Keen in Heber on Tuesday.  Houtz made 50 cheeseburgers and 50 ham sandwiches for Wasatch County Search and Rescue on Sunday, when Dairy Keen is usually closed.
Kim Houtz, owner of Dairy Keen, shakes hands with Betsy Ricks outside Dairy Keen in Heber on Tuesday. Houtz made 50 cheeseburgers and 50 ham sandwiches for Wasatch County Search and Rescue on Sunday, when Dairy Keen is usually closed. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Kohler said he wondered what they would do with the food for their professional crew, since so few places in the area are open on Sundays.

So he contacted Dairy Keen, which has supported the search and rescue team since the restaurant has existed, he said.

“They were closed, but it didn’t matter. They knocked those sandwiches down so fast,” Kohler said. “Every time we ask, they answer.”

The crew’s Facebook page then posted a message to Dairy Keen, thanking the company for feeding them during a “really long search”.

Olpin said professional researchers insisted on paying for Sunday lunch, but Dairy Keen donated food to local organizations on several occasions.

“We’re all in this together,” she said. “That’s community.”

Kohler added that Heber City’s small town roots are why the locals are so supportive of each other.

“When someone is in trouble, everyone steps in to help them, no matter what the situation,” he said. “It’s just an extension of that.”

Correction: Wasatch County Search and Rescue Team Commander Kam Kohler’s name was misspelled as Koehler in an earlier version.

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