The rescue of Elizabeth Smart was the result of Utah's world-class community effort, said the girl's parents, the Salt Lake chief of police and the federal agent in charge of the investigation in a public letter of thanks sent to media Saturday.
Ed and Lois Smart, Chief Rick Dinse and Special Agent in Charge Chip Burrus, on behalf of the Smart family and law enforcement agencies, "wholeheartedly thank the citizens of Utah for their valuable assistance in the investigation and safe recovery of Elizabeth Smart," the letter states.
The citizens of Utah responded to the tragedy on June 5, 2002, "with unbelievable commitment." The letter notes that thousands volunteered to search the entire Wasatch Front in unbearable heat, and local businesses and restaurants provided free food and beverages as well as equipment and services for the effort.
"In addition, these same businesses and restaurants sent endless supplies of food and beverages to the SLCPD to feed the hundreds of law enforcement officials that worked around the clock during the first several months of this investigation."
The letter also thanks the thousands of concerned citizens who called hotlines established by the police department and FBI providing information they hoped would help.
"It is in times of tragedy that communities define themselves by their actions," the letter states. "The citizens of Utah showed the world the true meaning of 'community support.' "