Grieving 9/11 Widow Spends Almost $5 Million

ByABC News via logo
June 13, 2005, 8:21 AM

June 13, 2005 — -- When her husband died in the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, relatives, friends and strangers opened their hearts and their wallets to Kathy Trant, donating millions of dollars to Trant and her three children.

The money was meant to compensate for the income Dan Trant would have used to support his family for years to come. But to Trant it represented blood money, money that couldn't make up for what she had lost.

Fewer than four years after the attacks, she has blown through most of the money, and is coming out with her story now to warn others against the trappings of chronic spending, a major problem among Americans.

"It's blood money that I don't want," Trant said. "I want my husband back."

After her husband's funeral, Kathy Trant spiraled into deeper and deeper circles of depression. She turned to alcohol and antidepressants to numb the pain, and her weight fluctuated between 90 and 170 pounds.

But as she managed to get one set of problems under control, another problem emerged. Trant started spending out of control.

At the time of his death, Dan Trant, 40, was quickly moving up the ladder as a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, making $130,000 in addition to tens of thousands in bonuses in his final year. Based on his estimated future earnings, the Federal Victim Compensation Fund awarded Kathy Trant $4.2 million, of which she received half. She got another $3 million from friends and family.

"I didn't know how to give back because so many people gave to me when I lost my husband," Trant said.

Trant began lavishing gifts on friends and family. She gave her former housekeeper $15,000 to buy a home in El Salvador, she spent $70,000 to take six friends to the Super Bowl and another $30,000 for a trip for 20 to the Bahamas.

She said Dan would have wanted to help others, and he would have liked to improve their home as well. So Trant spent $1.5 million to nearly triple the size of her suburban New York home. She spent $350,000 on the back yard, installing a full basketball court also equipped for volleyball, tennis and Rollerblading, a heated pool and a hot tub.