Widow of NM Police Officer Is Denied Workers' Comp Death Benefits

In August 2002, a 12-year-old boy was swimming in the upper Rio Grande river in New Mexico during a church event when he suddenly slipped below the surface of the water. Kevin Schultz, an off-duty officer from the nearby town of Pojoaque Pueblo, sprang into action and saved the boy from drowning.

Sadly, Officer Schultz did not survive.

Schultz was the kind of officer who always carried his service revolver, badge and radio with him, just in case of emergency. After his tragic death, he was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard's Silver Lifesaving Medal and a Medal of Valor from Pojoaque Pueblo. Both citations praised Schultz for bravery beyond the call of duty.

"Your husband, Kevin Schultz, died in the line of duty," said Pojoaque lieutenant governor George Rivera (now governor) in 2003.

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety concluded that Schultz had been killed in the line of duty. The Justice Department approved his family for benefits, acknowledging that he was killed in the line of duty. He is listed on memorial walls in both Santa Fe and Washington, D.C., which commemorate officers killed in the line of duty.

Unfortunately, the workers' compensation system says the fatal accident did not occur during the course of Schultz's employment, and they denied his widow's claim for workers' comp death benefits.

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