July 2, 2013

Elite firefighters killed in Ariz. remembered, mourned

The Associated Press

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This undated photo courtesy of the the Woyjeck family shows firefighter, Kevin Woyjeck, right, and his father, Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Joe Woyjeck. Kevin Woyjeck of Seal Beach, Calif., was one of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew, who was killed Sunday evening above the town of Yarnell, northwest of Phoenix in the nation's biggest loss of firefighters in a wildfire in 80 years. (AP Photo/Woyjeck Family)

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A photo of one of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot crew members who were killed fighting a wildfire near Yarnell, Ariz., on Sunday, sits at a makeshift memorial outside the crew's fire station on Monday in Prescott, Ariz.

The Associated Press

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Names, ages of killed firefighters

Andrew Ashcraft, 29

Kevin Woyjeck, 21

Anthony Rose, 23

Eric Marsh, 43

Christopher MacKenzie, 30

Robert Caldwell, 23

Clayton Whitted, 28

Scott Norris, 28

Dustin Deford, 24

Sean Misner, 26

Garret Zuppiger, 27

Travis Carter, 31

Grant McKee, 21

Travis Turbyfill, 27

Jesse Steed, 36

Wade Parker, 22

Joe Thurston, 32

William Warneke, 25

John Percin, 24
 

Turbyfill, 27, often worked with other Hotshots at Captain Crossfit, a warehouse filled with mats, obstacle courses, climbing walls and acrobatic rings near the firehouse. He would train in the morning and then return in the afternoon with his wife and kids.

Trainer Janine Pereira said she recently kidded Turbyfill for skipping workouts. His excuse was that he wanted to spend some quality time at Dairy Queen.

"He was telling me that it's because it was Blizzard week, and he was just going to eat a Blizzard every night," she said.

Tony Burris, another trainer, said he enjoyed watching Turby with his two daughters.

"Because he's this big, huge Marine, Hotshot guy, and he has two little girls, reddish, blonde curly hair, and they just loved their dad," he said.

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BILLY WARNEKE: 'DOING WHAT HE LOVED'

Billy Warneke, 25, and his wife, Roxanne, were expecting their first child in December, his grandmother, Nancy Warneke, told The Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, Calif. Warneke grew up in Hemet, Calif., along with his fellow Granite Mountain hotshot, Chris MacKenzie. He was a four-year Marine Corps veteran who served a tour in Iraq and had joined the hotshot crew in April, buying a property in Prescott, near where his sister lived, the newspaper reported.

Nancy Warneke said she called her sister after seeing the fire on the news.

"She said, 'He's gone. They're all gone,'" Nancy Warneke told The Press-Enterprise. "Even though it's a tragedy for the whole family, he was doing what he loved to do. He loved nature and was helping preserve nature."

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CLAYTON WHITTED: HE'D 'LIGHT IT UP'

Full of heart and determination, Clayton Whitted, 28, might not have been the biggest guy around, but he was among the hardest-working. His former Prescott High School coach, Lou Beneitone, said Whitted was a "wonderful kid" who always had a big smile on his face. Whitted played for the football team as an offensive and defensive lineman.

"He was a smart young man with a great personality, just a wonderful personality," said Beneitone. "When he walked into a room, he could really light it up."

Beneitone said Whitted loved being a firefighter and was well-respected among his crew. He says he ran into Whitted about two months ago and they shook hands and hugged, and talked about the upcoming fire season.

"I told him to be careful," Beneitone said.

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KEVIN WOYJECK: FOLLOWING IN HIS FATHER'S FOOTSTEPS

For 21-year-old Kevin Woyjeck, the fire station was always a second home. His father, Capt. Joe Woyjeck, is a nearly 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Keith Mora, an inspector with that agency, said Kevin often accompanied his dad to the station and on ride-alongs, and always intended to follow in his footsteps.

"He wanted to become a firefighter like his dad and hopefully work hand-in-hand," Mora said Monday outside of the fire station in Seal Beach, Calif., where the Woyjeck family lives.

Mora remembered the younger Woyjeck as a "joy to be around," a man who always had a smile on his face. He had been trained as an EMT and worked as an Explorer, which is a mentorship training program to become a professional firefighter.

"He was a great kid. Unbelievable sense of humor, work ethic that was not parallel to many kids I've seen at that age. He wanted to work very hard."

As he spoke, Mora stood before an American flag that had been lowered to half-staff. His own fire badge was covered with a black elastic band, a show of respect and mourning for those lost in the line of duty.

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Additional Photos

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Unidentified members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew from Prescott, Ariz., pose together in this undated photo provided by the City of Prescott. Some of the men in this photograph were among the 19 firefighters killed while battling an out-of-control wildfire near Yarnell, Ariz., on Sunday, according to Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo.

The Associated Press

  


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