Widow of hotshot describes 1st Christmas without her husband - Tucson News Now

Widow of hotshot describes 1st Christmas without her husband

Andrew and Juliann Ashcraft Andrew and Juliann Ashcraft
This was the last photo Juliann received from her husband before he died battling the fire on June 30. This was the last photo Juliann received from her husband before he died battling the fire on June 30.
YARNELL, AZ (CBS5) -

For the families of the 19 Granite Mountain hotshots killed battling the Yarnell Hill Fire, it was the first Christmas without them.

Juliann Ashcraft likes to remember times of fun, games and laughter with her husband, Andrew Ashcraft and their four children.

But the picture-perfect family was torn apart by tragedy. Andrew Ashcraft was one of the 19 Granite Mountain hotshots killed fighting the wildfire on June 30.

"We're just going to have to grit our teeth and bear it this year," Juliann Ashcraft said. "It's rough, you know, you don't want to celebrate anything."

Ashcraft said her family follows the same traditions every year.

"We would always put up our tree on Black Friday. Andrew would get all the decorations down and we would decorate as a family. He would set up the tree and then the kids would all put up the ornaments and after they went to bed, he and I would then go hang the Christmas lights outside the house," Juliann Ashcraft said.

Now, it's just her and the kids.

"It's been interesting now to do all my mom duties and once the kids go to bed, I realize I have to do the dad duties and it's exhausting, it is just so exhausting," she said.

But she said life with the kids must go on.

"They are on all the time so we don't have a choice to lay in bed and cry. You've got to go to work and do things for them," she said.

She believes things will get easier in time.

"He'll be with us throughout the years to come. There's no doubt in my mind. Hopefully there will come a time when we can think about him and smile before we cry. This year, unfortunately, we'll probably just spend a lot of time in tears on Christmas," she said.

Ashcraft said Christmas was made possible this year by the 100 Club of Arizona, a nonprofit group that provides aid to families of fallen officers and firefighters.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • American ISIS wife endured horror, now wants to come home

    American ISIS wife endured horror, now wants to come home

    Thursday, April 19 2018 7:26 PM EDT2018-04-19 23:26:55 GMT
    Thursday, April 19 2018 9:02 PM EDT2018-04-20 01:02:08 GMT

    Sam Sally says she was coerced by her husband, who has since died, into crossing into ISIS territory while on vacation in Turkey four years ago.

    Sam Sally says she was coerced by her husband, who has since died, into crossing into ISIS territory while on vacation in Turkey four years ago.

  • 1 student injured in Florida school shooting; suspect in custody

    1 student injured in Florida school shooting; suspect in custody

    Friday, April 20 2018 9:27 AM EDT2018-04-20 13:27:44 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 10:39 AM EDT2018-04-20 14:39:55 GMT

    One student was injured in a school shooting at Forest High School in Ocala, FL. Police say the shooter is another student.

    One student was injured in a school shooting at Forest High School in Ocala, FL. Police say the shooter is another student.

  • Couple killed Vietnam vet, burned body while kids watched, authorities say

    Couple killed Vietnam vet, burned body while kids watched, authorities say

    Friday, April 20 2018 7:58 AM EDT2018-04-20 11:58:17 GMT
    Friday, April 20 2018 7:58 AM EDT2018-04-20 11:58:17 GMT
    Stacie Mendoza and her husband, Jose Mendoza, were arrested in the torture and murder of a Vietnam War veteran. (Hanford Police Department via AP)Stacie Mendoza and her husband, Jose Mendoza, were arrested in the torture and murder of a Vietnam War veteran. (Hanford Police Department via AP)

    Authorities believe Stacie Mendoza, a waitress, used her friendship with Kenneth Coyle to get access to his financial information.

    Authorities believe Stacie Mendoza, a waitress, used her friendship with Kenneth Coyle to get access to his financial information.

Powered by Frankly