Over the last five years, six state employees have died while protecting their communities in Colorado.
They were a Colorado Department of Transportation worker, an employee with the Department of Natural Gas, the head of the Department of Corrections and three state troopers.
Their families are trying to cope with the loss – and a bill passed on Thursday in committee is aimed at giving them a helping hand by extending their heath benefits even after they’ve passed away.
One of the troopers who died was Cody Donahue, who was killed in November 2016 while investigating a crash on Interstate 25.
The day before his funeral, his wife, Velma Donahue, took her daughter to the doctor and realized she no longer had health insurance.
This isn’t the only family this has happened to.
Velma Donahue shared her story with lawmakers, including Sen. Beth Martinez (R-Adams County), who is backing the bill.
“We just went through the worst week of our lives, and then to have this, something so vital, all the sudden gone, it was indescribable, I came home crying, not knowing what to do,” Donahue said.
The bill passed in committee 5-0. One thing it doesn’t do is extend health insurance benefits for county employees, like fallen deputies, but that’s something lawmakers say they still want to tackle.