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Hero Down: Pima County Sheriff’s Sergeant Gary Hawco Succumbs To Brain Cancer

Pima County Sheriff's Sergeant Gary Hawco served his department for 27 years.

Tucson, AZ – Pima County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD) Sergeant Gary Hawco died on Tuesday, following a fierce battle against an aggressive brain cancer.

In January of 2019, Sgt. Hawco passed out as he was driving his car, resulting in a one-vehicle crash that left him with multiple injuries and broken bones, according to a fundraising page established to help him during his treatment.

“Gary’s doctors conducted tests to determine what had caused him to lose consciousness and found unidentified growths on his brain,” according to the fundraising page. “Subsequent tests resulted in a cancer diagnosis with a grim prognosis.”

Sgt. Hawco was formally diagnosed with highly-aggressive, fast-growing Glioblastoma.

He underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to extend his life, but doctors told him likely had less than 15 months to live.

The community rallied around Sgt. Hawco and his 17-year-old daughter in the wake of his diagnosis, holding a variety of fundraisers and raffles.

“We really appreciate the community around us and everything they help us out with on a daily basis,” Pima County Deputy Daniel Jelineo told KVOA in June of 2019. “So, just seeing their faces here and them rooting for Gary, it just puts a smile on his face.”

The 27-year veteran-of-the-force was the son of a U.S. Air Force Pararescue Vietnam War veteran, and always dreamed of skydiving like his father had done, KOLD reported.

His fellow deputies and a generous anonymous donor helped make that dream a reality last November.

“What a rush that was, to jump out like – Oh my God!” the overwhelmed sergeant said after he was back on the ground. “It was amazing!”

Sgt. Hawco joined the PCSD as a patrol deputy in 1992, the department said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in July of 2018, and was most recently assigned as the San Xavier District patrol supervisor.

Sgt. Hawco received numerous commendations during his nearly three decades of service.

“The Sheriff’s Department is deeply saddened by the passing of Sergeant Gary Hawco, after a long battle with an illness. Gary was a dedicated employee and served the citizens of Pima County for over 27 years,” the post read.

“The Pima County Sheriff’s Department extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sergeant Hawco,” the department said. “He was loved and respected by many in our Department and will be deeply missed.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Pima County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Gary Hawco, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Holly Matkin - March Wed, 2020


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