Payson Police Department rallys for officer's wife who has cancer 04

Kara Knighton and Alex Knighton hold hands while watching "Dennis the Menace" at the Huntsman Cancer Institute on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Salt Lake City.

After battling an aggressive and rare form of cancer for more than one year, the wife of a Payson Police Department officer died earlier this month.

Officers and department staff rallied together to support Officer Alex Knighton and attended the funeral of Kara Knighton on Thursday.

“(Doctors) tried to do what they could over the last several months and couldn’t keep it down,” said Sgt. Austin Cobbley, the first field training officer to work Alex Knighton.

In November 2018, Kara Knighton was diagnosed with a form of Ewing-like sarcoma. Doctors believed the cancer was an extremely rare anomaly since the stage IV cancer did not meet every marker for Ewing’s sarcoma.

The police department immediately started raising donations to help the couple pay for diagnostics and treatment, as well as volunteering to cover work shifts whenever Alex Knighton traveled to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.

“The moment that you joined a law enforcement agency is the moment your family grew to 800,000 plus,” Alex Knighton said last year in an interview with the Daily Herald. “It’s never proven so true.”

After months of chemotherapy treatments, surgeries and radiation sessions, doctors found additional tumors in Kara Knighton’s brain that had survived the medical procedures.

“Had I not had the support of my department — not only just my department, but complete and utter strangers who have never met me or even been to Utah just reaching out with monetary donations or words of support — I would not be able to do any of this,” Alex Knighton said last year.

He met Kara Knighton in high school at South Jordan and he sat behind her in an English class. He always thought she hated him, but May was their seventh marriage anniversary.

But this month, at 29 years old, Kara Knighton was moved to hospice care and passed away the morning of Nov. 16.

The Salem Police Department helped cover shifts and answer calls so almost everyone with the department could attend the funeral.

“In his closing remarks at the service, Alex mentioned that Kara called the Payson Police Department her guardian angels,” Cobbley said.

He explained the department changed an America First Credit Union charitable account to a memorial account on Facebook posts in hopes for community donations to cover funeral costs.

“We’re doing everything we can for him and support him and get him through this,” Cobbley said. “Aside from Kara, he’s probably one of the strongest people I’ve ever met.”

Ashley Stilson covers crime, courts and breaking news for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2556 or

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