SAN ANTONIO – Family and friends of Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Timothy De La Fuente gathered at Converse First Baptist Church to remember and honor him Friday morning on the anniversary of his death.
De La Fuente, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19, was dedicated to his job at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office for more than 27 years.
“He loved what he did. He was such a proud Texas peace officer, and he loved the law,” said Pauline Pezina De La Fuente, widow of Timothy De La Fuente.
Pezina De La Fuente said her husband was working at the jail when he contracted the novel coronavirus before testing positive for COVID-19.
“(Timothy), unfortunately, didn’t have the luxury to working from home, nor working six feet away from the inmates,” she said.
A year after Timothy De La Fuente’s death, his wife says she still hasn’t received any of her late husband’s benefits.
“We worked all our lives, and we’re not asking for a handout. We’re asking just for the governor to do the right thing and get these families, not just mine but all the other families like mine, the benefits they deserve,” Pauline said.
Pauline said she has a worker’s compensation claim and said the state is asking her to prove De La Fuente contracted COVID-19 at work.
“It’s just really hard that after all the years to me, I see it as a dishonor to him that the state is still saying, prove to us that he got it at work,” Pauline said.
Pauline said she would continue fighting until all families get the benefits they deserve.
Last June, Sheriff Javier Salazar said De La Fuente was assigned to a hot spot in the jail, and since widespread testing was taking place, Salazar said he expected cases of COVID 19 inside the jail to skyrocket at the time.
Currently, the state legislature is working on a bill, House Bill 541, that would designate COVID-19 as a line of duty illness, which would make it easier to qualify for benefits and compensation.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement today:
“We are hopeful that HB 541 will become state law and assist the families of those first responders who valiantly battled, but ultimately succumbed to the deadly disease— COVID-19. Deputy De La Fuente proudly served his community with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office for 27 years and will always be remembered.”