Friends, family and residents stood still for a moment Wednesday night and remembered two fallen Gilbert public safety workers on the second anniversary of police officer Rob Targosz's death.
They held candles and thought back on how it was only a year ago when a 10-foot bronze and granite statute was erected on the first anniversary of Targosz's death, depicting the popular officer aiding a firefighter in the rescue of a small child.
It was no less heart-wrenching Wednesday, as dozens gathered outside Gilbert's Public Safety Annex near Gilbert and Warner roads to remember both Targosz and Kathy Sanks, a police administrative assistant known as "patrol mom," who died April 19, 2004, after a long illness.
"After four years," Jason Sanks said of his mother, "it's not any easier."
But many in attendance took heart in the fact that residents appreciated the danger of the daily jobs of public safety employees.
"They protect us. It's something they do every day, and it's easy to forget about it and take it for granted," said resident and fire department volunteer Jon Switzer.
Laurie Haun joined the crowd because, she said, "It's really important on a regular basis to acknowledge what all these men and women do for our community."
Targosz's father, Gene Targosz, urged residents "be aware of how bad it is out there with drivers that are impaired. It's such a shame that we continue to lose our citizens by someone who doesn't care enough about the other person or themselves."
Targosz, 37, died April 30, 2006, when the motorcycle he was on was struck by a drunken driver, who later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Targosz was riding from his home in Tempe to begin his work day in Gilbert.
Targosz was a well known and respected figure in town who advocated for tougher laws and more equipment to protect residents from drunken drivers.
The community helped raise more than $200,000 for the memorial statue in less than eight months. About 400 gathered for its unveiling a year ago.
Since Targosz's death, his family has been instrumental in supporting legislation aimed at preventing DUI tragedies.