For Immediate Release: May 22nd, 2014
Senator Urges Governor to Assist Families of Fallen Troopers
Wielechowski: Families of Troopers Killed in Tanana Should Not Suffer Further
ANCHORAGE – Senator Bill Wielechowski (D – Anchorage) today urged Governor Parnell to take immediate action to ensure the families of two troopers killed in Tanana earlier this month will not be left without medical benefits on June 1.
“The loss of Sergeant Johnson and Trooper Rich was a tragedy for all Alaskans, but most importantly for their families,” Wielechowski said. “It is my hope that the grieving family members will not suffer further by the loss of health insurance benefits at the end of the month.”
Wielechowski said he had been contacted by US Senator Mark Begich, who has been working on this situation from the federal level and who expressed concern about continuing medical coverage for surviving family members.
After speaking with the Public Safety Employee’s Association, it became apparent some state action was needed so the families would not lose their health coverage.
“I urge Governor Parnell to take immediate action to ensure that Sergeant Johnson’s widow and three daughters as well as Trooper Gabe’s fiancée and two sons do not suffer additional loss at this time,” Wielechowski said.
He noted that Sergeant Johnson and his family would have been eligible for lifetime medical benefits in just two years, had he survived. Sergeant Johnson had served with the State Troopers for 20 years and with the North Slope Borough Police Department for three years. Normal retirement for troopers is available after 25 years.
Wielechowski said he will introduce legislation in January to ensure that surviving family members of public employees killed in the line of duty can continue to receive medical and other benefits.
“Public safety employees put their lives on the line every day for Alaskans,” Wielechowski said. “We need to stand with them and offer the utmost support in times of tragedy and loss.”
For more information contact Senator Wielechowski at (907) 242-1558.