Loved ones gather to honor memory of Utahn who died defending dog from abuse

WEST VALLEY CITY - One week after Jeremy Hardman was run down and killed in a West Valley City crosswalk, friends and family gathered to write messages on balloons and say goodbye.

"I already know what I'm going to write," said Judy Crocker, Jeremy's mom. "I'm going to write, 'God sent me an angel. I just never knew he'd need him back so soon."

Wednesday was the first time Crocker had been to the scene where her son was killed.

According to witnesses and police reports, Hardman and a friend, Jason Estes, were in a car near 3600 West and 4100 South when they saw another man, later identified as 40-year-old Aaron Hosman, striking a dog in his car.

According to witnesses, Jeremy and his friend pulled over to confront the man, and after Hosman pulled off, he allegedly did a U-turn before running Hardman down in the crosswalk, killing him.

"Dogs were his passion in life," Crocker added with a smile. "He always had dogs. So, to see an animal being abused, there was no doubt he was going to stop and protect that animal."

Wednesday night also marked the first time Jeremy's friend returned to the scene where he saw his friend take his last breath.

"Just being here is kind of hard," said Jason Estes. "I had only known him a little over a week, but we clicked right away and were together through the week."

Estes said both he and Jeremy didn't hesitate to spring into action once they saw the animal abuse happening.

Jeremy's mom says Jeremy's two dogs have been adopted by a family friend, and as for the dog the two men stopped to try to save, police say it did not belong to Hosman, but instead, a friend of his. They say they are working to try to locate both the friend and the dog to make sure both are safe.