Fallen firefighter's ex-wife speaks out

July 29, 2010 4:19:16 PM PDT
The battle over a fallen firefighter's benefits is continuing to heat up in Wharton County. The ex-wife of Thomas Araguz, who died earlier this month, says his children are the only ones who should receive money from his death benefits and not his transgendered widow. Heather Delgado is a single mother of two young sons without a father. Thomas Araguz died earlier this month fighting a warehouse fire. He was a volunteer firefighter, but the story has been focused about his subsequent marriage to Nikki Araguz, who admits she was a man at the time of their union. Mrs. Araguz is now fighting for a share of his death benefits that could total more than $600,000.

She said, "I look forward to the future outcome of this case and all these alleged allegations and untruths to come out in my favor."

Nikki Araguz says her husband knew she was transgender. His ex-wife refuses to believe that. She says was present when the issue was revealed during a child custody deposition this spring.

Delgado said, "From Thomas' reaction to a lot of the questions, he was in shock. He then leaned over and looked at Nikki like I can't believe that. He was in shock."

The case is drawing a lot of attention and it could take on a lot of long standing probate law, as well as laws in Texas that don't recognize same sex marriages. The other story, though, is that of the children left behind -- the sons of Araguz and his ex-wife.

Delgado said, "My youngest one said, 'Like dad said he'd be back when he went to that fire and the next morning he wasn't home.' And it's like, how do you answer that?"

Private investigators were at the fire scene, trying to determine if light fixtures might have played a role in the fire, which has already been ruled accidental. The next hearing date for the civil case has not been set yet.


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