Family honors late Goodyear firefighter Austin Peck by sky-diving with ashes

Nov 4, 2019, 12:15 PM | Updated: 7:52 pm
(Kay Cottingham Robinson Photo)...
(Kay Cottingham Robinson Photo)
(Kay Cottingham Robinson Photo)

PHOENIX — Honoring a life of service and adventure the way he would have wanted — that’s what fallen Goodyear firefighter Austin Peck’s family and friends did as they floated through the sky Saturday, spreading his ashes.

“This is something Austin experienced,” his father, Mark Peck, said. “And gosh, what a wonderful memorial.”

Austin Peck had already checked sky diving off his bucket list with his brother Cody before he died of cancer in September.

Before then, Austin made sure his loved ones knew he wanted his line-of-duty death to be celebrated the same way he lived his life — in a cool way.

They event was called “Falling for Austin.” Over 100 people gathered in Eloy wearing shirts in remembrance of the 35-year-old firefighter, who lost a battle to cancer they strongly believe was a result of his job.

Those who sky-dived didn’t just spread Austin’s ashes. They also flew U.S. and Arizona flags and set off red and blue smoke.

“All the firefighters that were on the ground, they did the flying flag thing between the ladder trucks again,” Mark Peck said. “The firetrucks all had their sirens on as we were coming. … (We) could hear them from miles up.”

He described it as “an amazing, amazing, emotional release.”

Austin’s family, friends and fire department peers wanted the memorial to be more than just that.

“It’s definitely a call to action,” Mark Peck added. “It was an awesome memorial for Austin, but Austin’s legacy — what he wanted to do was save Gilbert Aguirre, and we’re going to do that.”

Aguirre is a fellow Goodyear firefighter who continues to fight leukemia. Austin and Gilbert worked together on a firetruck for several years and considered themselves brothers.

Not only did they fight fires together, but they also fought cancer and the battle of seeking workers’ compensation from their city together.

The Peck family took time after skydiving to read a letter calling out the city of Goodyear and their insurance company CopperPoint. They talked about the city’s inaction in taking care of firefighters who contract cancer after working in hazardous duty.

The family hopes to bring attention to cancer in the fire service, as well as the denial of workers’ compensation that firefighters face.

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Family honors late Goodyear firefighter Austin Peck by sky-diving with ashes