The Utah Legislature on Friday honored the first responders who lost their lives in the past year, and the House passed a bill to create a scholarship program for children whose parent is killed in the line of duty.
Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, welcomed the families of retired Logan City Fire Cpt. Brian Holbrook and Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Craig Ward to the House floor, and thanked them for their service on behalf of the House of Representatives.
"I hope ... you'll be able to look at each member of the House here and know how proud we are of you — of this service that your father offered to our state," he said. "That matters to us. We recognize the sacrifices, the hurt that you've gone through losing your dad."
Wilcox told Holbrook's young daughters that firefighters go into places the rest of us can't, in order to keep people safe.
"They breathe in things that we know hurt us, because they're trying to do everything they can to look out for all of our little girls, too," he said. "You can be proud of that for the rest of your life. Your dad chose to do that for all of us."
To Ward's daughters, Wilcox said he worked with several of the officers who Ward trained, and was told of all of the things Ward did for them.
"Your dad's legacy is going to live on in the service of all those troopers," he said. "We're so grateful for the sacrifice of your father, and we hope that you're proud of him and will choose to emulate his service in your life, whatever it takes."
"We can't express enough our appreciation for you and the example that you've set for the state," said House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville.
After observing a moment of silence in the chamber, the House clerk read a citation that was presented to the families.
"These men and women are Utah's heroes," the citation reads. "We are committed to remembering that the preservation of our liberty ... comes at a price. That price is often paid by young men and women who selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives of the people and to uphold peace and justice in our communities."
Holbrook — who worked for the Logan Fire Department, University of Utah AirMed and Unified Fire Authority — died in November 2021, according to a statement from the Logan Fire Department.
"Cpt. Holbrook inspired us all with his knowledge and passion for the job," the department stated. "There was no better teacher, no better mentor, and no better friend. He has had a huge influence on the Logan City Fire Department and this community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family. Rest in peace Brother Brian."
The Utah Highway Patrol announced Ward's death on April 25, 2022.
"We are grateful and humbled by the outpour of support we have received since the passing of Sgt. Craig Ward," UHP posted on Twitter. "... Thank you for your continued support through this difficult time as we mourn the loss of an amazing Father, Husband and Trooper."
We are grateful and humbled by the outpour of support we have received since the passing of Sergeant Craig Ward.— Utah Highway Patrol (@UTHighwayPatrol) April 26, 2022
Funeral services for Sgt Ward will be held Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the Deseret Peak Complex located at 2930 West Highway 112, Tooele, at noon. pic.twitter.com/nVd0gCCTeR
Fallen officers scholarship
After the citation was read, the House unanimously passed HB332, which aims to create the Fallen Officer Memorial Scholarship Program for the children of public safety officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty. The bill would provide $3,500 per year, for up to four years, for education expenses such as tuition, fees and books.
"I can tell you that any time a police officer (or) firefighter gets a call about a dangerous situation, they go," said bill sponsor Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Provo, who also serves in the Provo Police Department. "They go as fast as they can to make sure that ... the community is safe."
Clancy said when first responders enter dangerous situations, the only trepidation they have "is that if something happens, I hope my family's OK."
The bill would be a meaningful step to ensure that children of officers and firefighters are taken care of even after a parent's sacrifice.
HB332 will be sent to the Senate for consideration.