AZ parks ranger battling cancer fired after 19 years on the job

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PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Sue Hartin loved being an Arizona Parks ranger and is still in shock over her sudden firing last week.

"I've been in a deep depression ever since," said Hartin. "Anxiety. I haven't slept in seven days. I didn't eat for five. It was my life."

The former state employee spent 19 years on the job and was looking forward to retiring next June and getting a full pension.

But that's not going to happen, and Hartin has no idea why, because no one will tell her.

"That's killing me," said Hartin. "When you work that long for something, because you don't get a lot of money working for the state, it's hard. I'm not going to lie to you, I was looking forward to my pension."

In 2015, Ranger Sue was named the employee of the year by the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, and received an excellent work review in 2017.

The 59-year old has been battling eye cancer, and has missed some work over the past few months.

She was recently granted Family Medical Leave Act job protection while she deals with her health issues, and a scheduled surgery this August.

However, that didn't prevent her termination.

"I just wanted to make it to my retirement," said Hartin. "It was was almost like it was done purposely."

Hartin said that she had been written up at work a couple of times over the past year, citing minor infractions, but didn't think it rose to the level of being fired.

According to Hartin, a new supervisor had targeted her and made things difficult at work

Hartin thinks she may have been fired because of her age.

AZ Family made several attempts to get an explanation for Hartin's firing from officials with the Arizona State Parks and Trails Department, but calls and e-mails have not been returned.

Ranger Sue is currently taking care of her 89-year old mother and wondering how she'll pay the bills with no job, no pension, and health benefits that run out Friday.

"I don't know if they've done anything wrong, but they've definitely broken my heart," said Hartin. "That's going to stay with me forever because I'm not the same person."

"We are closely reviewing this case to ensure it was handled properly," said Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesperson for Gov. Doug Ducey.

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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