Local Chris Brunner shared a picture of buggies crawling up the Black Flag trail at Area BFE that was first conquered by Kevin Carroll, who first had to develop the off-road vehicles and skills to handle the trail’s challenges. [Photo courtesy of Chris Brunner]

Friends of Moab businessman Kevin Carroll paid tribute to his off-roading legacy at his funeral with a procession of rock-crawling buggies.

Carroll died on June 30 when his red and white airplane crashed in a remote area in northern San Juan County. A longtime Moab resident, Carroll was well known in the community for his skills in designing and driving off-road vehicles.

His funeral procession left the LDS Stake Center on Locust Lane on July 5 with Red Dot Engineering buggies in the escort to the graveside service at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

Carroll’s sister, Kristie Whipple, said she didn’t know about the escort planned by his friends.

She helped her mother, Vee, into a car, but said the 86-year-old decided she wasn’t going in a car.

“She actually got out of the car and went over and talked to one of the guys and said ‘What do you think about giving me a ride in one of those?’” Whipple said.

Vee was pointing to one of the 10 off-road buggies in the escort. Both Vee and Carroll’s father, R.D., were driven back to the church in buggies when it came time for the family to leave the graveside service.

“It was such an honor,” Whipple said. “I think it really made my parents proud.”

Whipple, a Realtor at Anasazi Realty, said her brother’s death “leaves a hole” in the community, one that can’t be easily filled.

He had a unique way of checking in on his friends and family in the Moab community. When Carroll buzzed his friends, it wasn’t by telephone.

“He would fly around and see what people were doing,” Whipple said. “That was his way of saying hi. It wasn’t something normal everyday people would do, but he would get in his airplane to go around checking on people.”

He owned two airplanes and felt at home in the air, she said. When Carroll buzzed people at home, they knew it was him, sometimes taking his picture or a quick video to share with everyone else. A couple of weeks before the plane crash that killed him, Whipple said Carroll loaded R.D., 87, into one of his airplanes for a ride over Moab.

Whipple said in the air wasn’t the only place where Carroll felt at home — he raced in the desert, crawled over rocks on trails known to be impossible, encouraged his friends to develop businesses in Moab, built houses and bought and sold real estate. As a successful businessman, he developed the Moab Business Park, owned Carroll Drilling Co., worked closely with Gary Hilley in founding Red Dot Engineering and developing cutting-edge buggies, and operated a heavy machinery business in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“In the 4-wheeling and buggy industry, Kevin was the one to say ‘I need this to do this,’ and he was a pioneering guy who figured it out, and the people close to him helped him do it,” she said.

Online his impact is noticed by various off-roading magazines and online publications that have featured or profiled him over the years, including Four Wheeler Network and MRP Photography

Whipple said Carroll kept everyone “on their toes” with his upbeat and exciting lifestyle.

“People like Kevin come with a lot of grit,” Whipple said. “He was so present everywhere. I think that’s why it’s going to leave a big hole.”

Carroll’s airplane was reported missing in Moab on June 30 after it left around 8 a.m. that day but didn’t return at its noon arrival time. Search and rescue crews found the plane about 24 hours later. The crash in San Juan County also claimed the life of Jay Camberlango, 42, of Lindon. The cause of the accident is still under investigation. Carroll would have turned 54 on his birthday on July 21.

His enthusiasm for off-roading led him on many adventures. At one time, he was involved with the development of a place in Moab called Area BFE. Off-road at Area BFE, Carroll was a talented motorcycle and off-road driver, eventually befriending fellow adventurist Chris Brunner. 

“He was probably one of the best off-road drivers in the Moab area,” Brunner told the Moab Sun News on July 1. 

Brunner remembered Carroll for his determination conquering trails in Moab. Carroll became the first person to make an off-road vehicle and develop the skills needed to navigate the Black Flag trail at Area BFE.

“The trail had been open for 12 years and no one had ever run it,” Brunner said. “I remember sitting at lunch one day during Easter Jeep Safari and Kevin walked up to me and said ‘I am a couple hundred feet from the end.’ … and there he was, just about at the end of this virtually impossible-to-run trail.”

Eventually, once he had conquered “all of Moab’s trails,” Carroll shifted his focus to airplanes, Brunner said. 

“He lived his life to the fullest,” he said.

Carroll’s friend Jon McKay, a loan officer at Zions Bank, said his friend had a zest for life that most people will only witness on YouTube.

“Kevin Carroll’s life cannot be highlighted in a paragraph very easily,” McKay said. “For me, he was an adventurous friend and savvy business partner. He was the kind of person who would walk into a café as a stranger and walk out with two new friends who were going to go riding with him or maybe build something.”

McKay said Carroll had “absolutely no fear of the throttle.” Whipple agreed. She recalled Carroll’s tenacity for adventures early in life when they were children on family vacations.

“He was the one who was barefoot, waterskiing and spraying everyone with water,” she said. “Some people take naps on vacation; not Kevin. He was go, go go.”

Members of Carroll’s family extended gratitude to everyone who helped with the search, and all the people who gave flowers, cards and meals.

Editor’s note: The Moab Sun News originally reported the plane was located in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. It was located outside of the boundaries of the park in northern San Juan County in a remote area on BLM land. We regret the error.

Kevin Carroll died on June 30

“He was the kind of person who would walk into a café as a stranger and walk out with two new friends who were going to go riding with him or maybe build something.”