Friend helps brother of fallen Officer Raetz - WNEM TV 5

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Friend helps brother of fallen Officer Raetz

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Tammy Kohler  as she read her letter to Derek Raetz and his girlfriend. (Source: CBS 5 News) Tammy Kohler as she read her letter to Derek Raetz and his girlfriend. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -

When a Valley policeman is killed in the line of duty, the community feels a great loss, but the toll paid by their family is much greater and has an impact in ways many of us never imagine.

"I didn't really get any type of closure, I didn't get to see him or say, 'goodbye,'" Derek Raetz said.

Nine months ago, Raetz branched out on his own, escaping the Valley heat with his girlfriend and son to start a new job and life in Prescott, but their plans changed in tragic and stunning fashion with a phone call in the middle of the night on May 19.

[RELATED: Fundraisers provide financial bridge for families of the fallen]

"I remember saying like, 'there's no way, he's been in the hospital way too many times and he's always OK, so there's no way," Raetz said.

Raetz's only sibling, Phoenix police Officer Daryl Raetz had been hit by a speeding vehicle during a traffic stop. He died before his brother could make it back to town.

"He taught me just about everything I know," Derek Raetz said.

"It was hard seeing him really emotional because that's the only person he really looked up to," Derek Raetz's girlfriend, Megan Parker said.

Daryl Raetz was a Navy corpsman who survived two tours in Iraq, including an IED explosion that sent him to the hospital. Even as a child, Daryl Raetz was hit by cars three separate times. Each time he pulled through.

Now Derek Raetz believes it's his time to step up. His mother and his brother's widow even asked him to move back to the Valley, after all, that's what his big brother would have done.

"He's a caretaker. He's always made sure that everyone's best interests were taken care of before his," Derek Raetz said.

But stepping into that role is not easy for a young family on a budget, along with moving twice in one year and trying to find work. Both Derek Raetz's car and his truck broke down this week.

"I got to keep telling her every day, somehow it [will] work. I don't know how, but somehow we keep the baby fed, we keep food in our mouths and we have a roof over our heads and that's all I can ask for," Derek Raetz said.

Derek Raetz would have suffered in silence because that's just his way, but his friend, Tammy Kohler, felt this family had already been through enough.

"I just told him to realize his brother is a hero, but in my mind, he's a hero too," Kohler said.

Kohler, along with CBS 5 News, presented a $500 check to Derek Raetz this week. Earlier that day, he looked to the sky and asked his brother for just a little help to get his footing.

"It seems like they're helping me more than anything, but I'm hoping to get it turned around and get on my feet and help the family back and be there," Derek Raetz said.

The Desert Horizon Precinct officers are holding a fundraiser Friday for the families of both Daryl Raetz and firefighter Bradley Harper, both lost in the line of duty on the same day. It will be open to the public.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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