Ashcraft reacts to council vote to appeal benefits - Tucson News Now

Ashcraft reacts to council vote to appeal benefits

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PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS News) -

Just one day after the first anniversary of the Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy, the City of Prescott decided to appeal a retirement board's decision granting benefits to the family of fallen Hotshot Andrew Ashcraft.

"I'm not angry with anybody. I'm just sad that we have to continually drag this out," said Julianne Ashcraft, Andrew Ashcraft's widow."

Andrew Ashcraft was among 13 of the 19 Hotshots killed that were classified as part time, making them not eligible for benefits.

"There's just no length, what we won't go to to continue fighting for what we already know is right. I mean it's sad. We're exhausted. It's been a long emotional year. It's sad that there's one more thing that we have to be worrying about," said Julianne Ashcraft.

Prescott City Attorney John Paladini says the council wanted an independent, second look at the case.

"I don't think it's a question of liking the decision or being unhappy with the decision. The council wanted a judge trained in the law to look at this. It's a case that's never been dealt with before," said Paladini. "None of this is taken lightly. None of this is done with any kind of malice or any kind of bad feelings."

Julianne Ashcraft is frustrated.

"This board is a board that they themselves appointed, so it's an interesting dynamic and I'm sad that they're not going to put trust in a board that they appointed to make that decision," said Julianne Ashcraft.

Still, she's confident she'll ultimately be granted benefits, and hopes the council's appeal to a higher court may spark a change for other Hotshots.

"Andrew might not have been the only misclassified Hotshot. There might be Hotshots on the fire line right now without benefits, and perhaps if it had stayed at the local level changes wouldn't have happened for other Hotshots," said Julianne Ashcraft.

The case will now go to the Yavapai County Superior Court for a judge to review. Paladini tells CBS 5 it could take months before a decision is made.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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