Paying tribute to 23 fallen Arizona heroes - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Paying tribute to 23 fallen Arizona heroes

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100 Club of Arizona 100 Club of Arizona
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The 100 Club of Arizona set a record year in 2013 by raising more than $3 million. It was also the deadliest year for Arizona public safety agents.

On March 22, Phoenix Firefighter Brandi Schamadan, 41, died of cancer. It was found to be related to pollutants she was exposed to while on the job.

On May 6, Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Tim Huffman, 47, was investigating an accident when he was struck and killed by a tractor trailer on Interstate 8.

On May 19, Officer Daryl Raetz, 26, was making a DUI stop when he was hit and killed at 51st Avenue and Cambridge. Later the same day, Phoenix Firefighter Bradley Harper died from injuries he suffered the day before.

On June 30, all but one member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were trapped by a wildfire on Yarnell Hill. Nineteen firefighters died in one day.

The last time Arizona witnessed so many public safety agents lose their lives in one year was in 1973 with 22 police officers, deputies, firefighters and border patrol agents.

On Friday evening, Peoria Police Officer Bill Weigt greeted those 23 families who lost a loved one this past year from his wheelchair as part of the 100 Club's annual tribute.

In 2005, Weigt took a bullet that ricocheted off a bone and struck his spine. He said one death is too many, but 23 is heartbreaking.

"2013 was a tough year," Weigt said. "You want the year to go safe and free."

Officer Daryl Raetz's wife, Stephanie, and their daughter were met by hundreds to show their support for her family.

"You don't realize how many people actually pour out to you until you show up and you see it," Raetz said. "It makes me feel better to know the city is there for you no matter what."

In one way or another, just about everyone at this tribute knows a police officer or firefighter and showed those 23 families that they are not alone.

It's something Raetz and her daughter found comfort in with an entire state by their sides.

"I remind my daughter of that every day," Raetz said. "We're not alone and we never will be."

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.

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