Granite Mountain Hotshots meeting turns bitter when mayor refuses to let widow Amanda Marsh speak

PRESCOTT, AZ - A Prescott City Council meeting held Tuesday evening to determine if the Granite Mountain Hotshots team would continue turned contentious at the end when the mayor refused to let the wife of one of the fallen firefighters speak.

Amanda Marsh, the wife of Eric Marsh--one of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who was killed battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire -- cautiously stood up from her seat and asked, "May I just talk really quickly -- give me two minutes."

"No ma'am, I'm sorry," Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall replied. The meeting was not allowing for public comment.

People in their seats began to become restless as the meeting's demeanor abruptly changed with two people getting up from their seats and starting to walk out.

"Oh come on", "Give it to her" and "Let her speak" members of the public could be heard telling the mayor and the council members.

Amanda Marsh even threatened the council saying, "OK, if you don't want me to talk in here I'll talk to them (the media)."

Marsh then continued to speak, essentially forcing herself to the podium and on the microphone.

"All I wanted to say was 'thank you' for considering bringing the crew back on because it was my husband's dream. So thank you very much," said Marsh.

In a slight change of tone, almost a mockery, Marsh continued, "And I also want to tell you, thank you so much for publishing my benefits in the paper. That was really nice. And it makes a widow who lives by herself feel so safe. Thank you." Marsh then proceeded to step away from the podium while gently clapping.

"Shame on you" a woman could be heard saying immediately after.

City council members told ABC15 that protocol was broken allowing Marsh to speak, but they are going to try and set up a meeting to understand her concerns regarding the publishing of her benefits. The attorney general said the basic survivor benefits were released, but specific information was not.

During the meeting, the council did vote to continue the Granite Mountain Hotshots team. Mayor Kuykendall provided a list of resources that would be needed to continue the team and to begin the hiring process.

Deborah Pfingston, mother of late hotshot Andrew Ashcraft, said keeping the crew going means her son didn't die in vain, that he gave his life for a greater cause.

"What a slap in the face to our son, what a slap in the face, in my opinion, if they would've stopped the Granite Mountain Hotshots."

The fire chief will spend the next two weeks taking hotshot applications and creating a training budget. The city needs to figure out permanent funding which could include raising property taxes.

The next public meeting is set for August 20.

 

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