Prescott votes to not appeal benefits awarded to Hotshot's famil - KCTV5 News

Prescott votes to not appeal benefits awarded to Hotshot's family

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Andrew and Juliann Ashcraft Andrew and Juliann Ashcraft
PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) - The Prescott city council decided by a majority vote Tuesday not to appeal a decision by the city's retirement board to award full death benefits for the families of three fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot.

The Prescott Public Safety Retirement System Board decided to grant survivor benefits to the families of fallen hotshots Andrew Ashcraft, William Warneke and Sean Misner, and the council will no longer appeal that decision.

The decision to not appeal makes the three Hotshots' widows and children eligible to receive public safety personnel survivor benefits.

In July 2014, when the Prescott city council voted 4-2 to appeal the board's decision, Juliann Ashcraft told CBS 5 News she was disappointed and vowed she will continue "to fight for what's right."

"It's sad we have to continue this pursuit even after the anniversary," Ashcraft said in July. "I don't think anyone was trying to be nasty or make this difficult," Ashcraft said. "I think they didn't want to be the ones to shoulder any blame when talking to Prescott taxpayers."

Ashcraft's widow had filed a claim that he should be eligible for participation in the state's PSPRS, which has a higher payout than the Arizona State Retirement System the city placed him in, and that the family is entitled to survivor benefits.

"Unfortunately I feel like this could be an epidemic in the Hotshot community - that they are undervalued, underappreciated and underbenefitted, and I think this opens up the voice for Hotshots," Ashcraft told CBS 5 News.

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew died June 30, 2013 when flames overran their position during the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Copyright 2015 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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