U.S. News


Mother Of Fallen Ariz. Firefighter Files Claim For $36M

Marcia McKee\'s claim says negligence led to her son\'s death. She seeks $36 million from the state of Arizona, the City of Prescott and Yavapai County.
Posted at 1:10 PM, Nov 17, 2013

The mother of one of the firefighters killed during the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona this past summer is seeking $36 million in her son's death. 

Marcia McKee is seeking $12 million each from the state of Arizona, Yavapai County and the City of Prescott, arguing her 21-year-old son's death was preventable. (Via KPHO)

The blaze also killed 18 of Grant McKee's fellow Hotshot firefighters on June 30. Almost five months later, this is the first type of legal action taken by a survivor of one of the victims. (Via KTVK)

Only one member of the 20-man team survived. He was designated as the team's lookout and didn't have enough time to notify them about the quickly shifting winds. (Via New York Daily News)

McKee was one of the youngest members of the team killed after winds shifted in the direction of the firefighters, ultimately trapping them. It was the deadliest day for firefighters since 9/11. (Via ABC)

In her claim, McKee says the local and state governments were negligent in not having the fire team follow nationally recognized rules to stay safe, claiming the team didn't have knowledge of the fire's path, there wasn't a planned-out escape route and there wasn't prompt communication between firefighters and a supervisor. (Via KPNXKnapp & Roberts)

McKee argues there are also plenty of unanswered questions left in a report made on the fire in September — with no party being blamed for the deaths. 

MCKEE: "Because that's what I think about from the time I open my eyes to the time I shut them — how he had to suffer. I mean, we all know they all suffered. It just eats at me night and day just thinking. And I made a promise to him that I'd find out."

But another firefighter who got trapped in a similiar-sized fire more than 20 years ago sat down with KSAZ and said the claim might be baseless because firefighters know how dangerous the job can be.

HATCH: "They didn't throw the guys out there just saying, 'Here, go out there. You're not coming back. See you.' They've never done that. Every firefighter that goes out on the line knows fully well that that's a possibility that could happen."

The claim says McKee is willing to accept $12 million from all the accused parties combined.