Wife of fallen firefighter breaks her silence

Posted at: 10/01/2013 10:31 PM
Updated at: 10/02/2013 10:21 AM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Hiedi Adams with her newborn daughter, Ayla.
Hiedi Adams with her newborn daughter, Ayla.

For the first time, the wife of fallen wildland firefighter Token Adams breaks her silence.

Adams was killed about a month ago in an ATV crash while checking out reports of smoke in the Jemez Mountains.

In just the last few weeks, his wife Hiedi not only lost her husband, she also gave birth to a daughter.

Now, the federal government shutdown has frozen her late husband's federal benefits.

It is a difficult conversation. The first one she's had out in the open since her husband's death.

But she says her voice is one of many wives and husbands and children helpless as the federal government shuts down and leaves them with nowhere to turn for help.

In every stream and sun-painted canvas of the Jemez, Hiedi Adams hears the whispers of a man she says belonged to this land.

"It's hard, driving into the mountains," Hiedi said. "'Cause I see him. It's hard. It's hard to see it every day."

As days turned into a week in early September, at the end of a long search in the same mountains he loved, Token Adams, the love of Hiedi's life was found lifeless on a stable mesa in the Jemez.

"Doesn't really seem like it's happened," Hiedi said. "It's miserable. Lonely."

But that crushing loss, that loneliness, became joy two weeks ago when Hiedi gave birth to Ayla.

But, just as the joy set in, so did the government shutdown.

"I had a meeting set for benefits tomorrow," Hiedi said.

Hiedi was supposed to finalize her late husband's federal benefits, but the meeting set for tomorrow has been canceled. She's told it could be as much as four weeks before Token's benefits begin.

Suddenly a single mom, Hiedi said she wants New Mexicans to know what families like hers are going through as the federal government furloughs employees. She said she's one of the lucky ones. The community has stepped up with donations.

"That's what I'm living off of," Hiedi said.

But, not everyone is in her shoes.

"You know, you have families who are both on government pay and you think up to four weeks without a paycheck, what's that going to do for their families?" Hiedi wondered. "I feel for them. It's going to be really tough."

And tough doesn't seem to do it justice. But then Hiedi looks around, at the mountains echoing her husband's memory, and her children echoing it too. And happiness reigns, for now.

Hiedi is trying to move back to Maine to be closer to her family. To help, click here.