Joe Thurston was originally from Utah, where he met his wife, Marsena.
"He was never one to shy away from a challenge or new experience," recalled Thurston's classmate and friend, E.J. Overson, in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune. His friends described him as a bit of a daredevil, who enjoyed skateboarding and cliff-diving. He and his wife were raising two young boys.
Thurston, a loving father of two and devoted husband of 11 years, found joy in all he did. He was a native of Cedar City, UT, born in 1981 and graduate of Cedar High class of 1999. He will be remembered for his bravery and selflessness.
A firefighter and EMT since 2008, Joe was enthusiastic about his work and very service-oriented. He was energetic, compassionate, determined, loving, funny, hardworking and extremely kind. Joe managed to be wildly fun to be around always rallying the group to the next adventure, and the type of guy whose smile filled the room. Dependability and decency radiated from him even at a very young age. A devoted family man he could always be found at the baseball field or on the floor playing with the kids. Head over heels for his high school sweetheart and wife of 11 years Marsena, he used every day as a new opportunity to show his love. Joe will be missed and will forever be a hero.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.