Mother says fallen hotshot firefighter had passion for job

Mother says fallen hotshot firefighter had passion for job

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - Joe Thurston was honored to be a Granite Mountain hotshot. His mother says he liked firefighting and helping people.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - Joe Thurston loved being a hot shot firefighter.
That's because those around him had his back and his mom believes in the end they were doing just that.

"If there's any comfort it's to know that they all stayed together," Gayemarie Ekker says.

The 32-year old Thurston grew up in Cedar City. He was one of the 19-hotshot firefighters who perished fighting a fire in Arizona.

Ekker was enroute to Prescott Arizona to celebrate the 4th of July when she learned of the tragedy.

"19 the whole team, it's just unbelievable," she says.

Ekker says her son always wanted to be a firefighter and was overjoyed when he became a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

“And when he got word that he'd been selected because it is the best they were the elite team and he was very proud of being a granite mountain hotshotter," she says.

Ekker was honored that other firefighters stood guard over the 19 firefighters Sunday night.

"They stayed all night with them and then rather than divide them up,

they kept them all together took them with an honor guard down to Phoenix," Ekker says.

Thurston was a family man, married with two sons, a 7 year old and a four year old.

“We went by the fire station last night and Ethan said ‘how are we going to get my daddy's truck home?’”, Ekker says.

Thurston mother says funeral plans remain uncertain. She says as of Tuesday morning, her son’s body was still with the medical examiner in Phoenix Arizona.
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