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Families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty soon will receive more death benefits under a bill passed Thursday.
Lawmakers in both the Senate and the House approved HB 288 unanimously and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.
Shante Johnson, the young widow of Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson, earlier testified that huge financial shocks added to her grief after he was shot to death two years ago.
"I was stranded with no income or health benefits for me and my little boy," she said.
The bill's sponsor, Clearfield Republican Rep. Paul Ray, has said the bill would require continuing health insurance coverage for spouses, until they remarry or become eligible for Medicare, and for children up to age 26.
The legislation requires giving survivors a lump-sum death benefit equal to six months' pay. Currently, they are given a payment of only $1,000.
The bill also sets up a specialist in the governor's office to help survivors handle required paperwork for benefits and other needs.
Nannette Wride, widow of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride, who was shot and killed last year, earlier testified that liaison would be especially helpful because "at that point in time, your brain can't handle it," and one is "numb, walking like a ghost in your house."