A Phoenix police officer and a city firefighter died within six hours of each other from injuries suffered in two separate incidents, city officials said in a news briefing Sunday morning.
Bradley Harper, 23, a two-year veteran of the Phoenix Fire Department, died after being crushed between two fire vehicles at a mulch fire Saturday near Lower Buckeye and 35th Avenue, said Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan.
Daryl Raetz, 29, a six-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, died from injuries suffered in a hit-and-run crash early Sunday morning, said Phoenix police Chief Daniel Garcia.
Officers said Sunday afternoon that Surprise police located the vehicle, described as a green Expedition. They are trying to determine who was behind the wheel.
Silent Witness is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identity and arrest of the hit-and-run suspect.
"I ask every citizen on this tragic day to pray for the families and the safety of our officers and safety of our firefighters," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said Sunday morning. "The family of the fallen will never be forgotten."
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered that state flags be flown at half-staff until sunset Sunday. Flags will be lowered again on the day of internment for both men.
"I received a call at 1:30 a.m. (Sunday) that Bradley Harper passed away," Khan said. "My thoughts are with his family."
Phoenix police said crews were repositioning several trucks when the firefighter became pinned. It's still unclear exactly how that happened.
Saturday night, firefighters were huddled outside the entrance of the emergency room at the hospital while the young man's wife and parents waited inside.
Khan described the firefighter as resilient. Khan said the 23-year-old volunteered to be assigned to Phoenix's busiest fire unit.
There will be a group prayer outside Harper's old high school, Northwest Christian, Monday at 7:30 a.m. by the flagpole.
Raetz was struck by a vehicle at 51st Avenue and Cambridge around 3:36 a.m. Sunday
Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Raetz was assisting other officers processing a DUI suspect.
Crews were loading a vehicle onto a tow truck when Raetz was hit by another vehicle heading north on 51st Avenue.
"The Phoenix Police Department will do everything we can to investigate this incident to the fullest extent," Garcia said. "I don't have the words to describe the sorrow in my heart for Daryl Raetz and his family."
Anyone with information about the hit-and-run is asked to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or 480-TESTIGO.
Raetz was assigned to the 81K squad in the Maryvale Precinct. He was also an Iraqi war veteran. He leaves behind a wife and young child.
People wishing to help the family can make online donations at the 100 Club of Arizona.
"I can assure you that the Phoenix Police Department will do everything it can to investigate this incident to the fullest extent and bring this individual to justice," Garcia added.
Brewer issued the following statement on the deaths of the two first responders:
"Arizonans awoke to tragedy this morning with the news that two of our state's brave first responders - a Phoenix firefighter and police officer - died overnight following separate incidents in the line of duty. Both men were killed while in service to the community they loved; both leave behind a family that grieves; both are to be honored and remembered for the boundless sacrifice they have made.
"Firefighter Bradley Harper, 23, was fatally injured while battling a mulch fire when he was pinned between two emergency vehicles. Police Officer Daryl Raetz, 29 and a veteran of the Iraq War, was killed in the early morning hours when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver. Officer Raetz was processing a suspected impaired motorist along the side of the road. The relatively routine circumstances in which Firefighter Harper and Officer Raetz were killed only underscores the danger our first responders face daily.
"No words of mine can ease sorrow this deep for the family and friends of these two men, nor the brothers and sisters in uniform who served alongside them. But we can hold high their memory - and in so doing honor the service and sacrifice of those who daily risk their lives on behalf of ours.
"On this day of mourning, I offer a prayer for Bradley Harper, Daryl Raetz and their loved ones who have lost so much. I ask that you do the same.
"In honor of Phoenix Firefighter Bradley Harper and Phoenix Police Officer Daryl Raetz, I have ordered that State flags be flown at half-staff until sunset today - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - as well as on the day of internment for both men, for which services are pending."
City leaders emailed their statements and condolences Sunday afternoon.
Vice-Mayor Bill Gates said:
"Public safety is the number one priority in our city and we are fortunate to have one the finest police departments, and finest fire departments, in the country. It is on days like this that we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifice some of our women and men make as they protect our community. It is truly a sad day when we must say goodbye to two of our finest. I ask that you keep their families in your thoughts and prayers today."
Councilman Michael Nowakowski wrote:
"As chair of the City Council Public Safety Subcommittee, my heart goes out to the families of the two young men we lost last night - Officer Daryl Raetz and Firefighter Bradley Harper. This is a reminder of the risks our police officers and firefighters face every day protecting the residents of Phoenix. If you have information about the hit-and-run that killed officer Raetz, please call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or 480-TESTIGO. God bless."
Stanton emphasized it's important for the community to back the families and public safety personnel.
"You're going to see over the next few days the city come together to show support for the men and women of the fire department and police department in ways probably beyond of what we've seen in the past," Stanton said.
"It's important that the living officers and firefighters see the community pull together so they know that when they go out every day to risk their lives they do so with the full support of the citizens of this city," Stanton added.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.
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