A grieving family is speaking out after a Detroit bus driver died from coronavirus shortly after voicing his concern about a passenger coughing on his bus.
Desha Johnson Hargrove and her two children found it difficult to hold back tears as they discussed the heartbreaking loss of their husband and father, Jason Hargrove, during on Good Morning America.
“He did not deserve this,” Desha told the outlet. “He was there for the citizens.”
“It’s so sad, it’s so hurtful,” added the couple’s daughter.
Jason died at the age of 50 on April 1, just a week after he fell ill, according to The Detroit News. Days before he started showing symptoms of the virus, the bus driver vented his frustrations about a female passenger who was coughing without covering her mouth in a video on Facebook.
While it was evident from the clip that Jason was worried about his health on the job, Desha told GMA it wasn’t the only time that her husband had expressed concern about contracting the virus.
“When he came home, he was so distressed,” Desha explained to the outlet. “He immediately got out of the clothes. It bothered him so badly.”
“In the end, he wasn’t alright,” the couple’s son added through tears.
As the family continues to grieve the unimaginable loss, Desha had one message for people around the country.
“I am pleading with everyone, if you do not have to be out, please obey your orders,” she urged. “This is not a game out here, this is not a joke out here. I am missing my husband, my children don’t have their dad anymore. This is serious.”
“Please, people, I’m begging you… do not let my husband’s death be in vain,” Desha added.
WARNING: Video below contains explicit language.
In Jason’s March 21 video, the bus driver said he was unable to stop working during the pandemic because of the essential services he provided to his city, but noted that he felt “violated” after the passenger openly coughed on his bus around him and eight other riders.
“We out here as public workers, doing our job, trying to make an honest living to take care of our families,” he said. “But for you to get on the bus and stand on the bus and cough several times without covering up your mouth — and you know we’re in the middle of a pandemic — that lets me know that some folks don’t care.”
“That was disrespectful,” he continued of the rider, who he claimed was in her late 50s or early 60s. “We ain’t talking about no teenagers, we talking about a grown-ass woman that did this.”
Like his wife, Jason also urged his followers to take the virus seriously, saying, “For us to get through this and get over this, man, y’all need to take this s— serious. There’s folks dying out here from this.”
While it is unclear if Jason contracted the illness from the specific passenger that he referenced in the video, the Detroit Department of Transportation on March 18 implemented safety measures, such as having bus passengers enter through the rear doors and enforcing a 10-foot distance from each other on board, to protect their drivers, according to The Detroit News.
Mayor Mike Duggan spoke out on Thursday at a press conference.
“If you haven’t seen Jason Hargrove’s post on Facebook, everybody in Detroit and everybody in America should watch it,” he said. “He was infected before we closed the front doors. Some of his language is graphic, but I don’t know how you can watch it and not tear up. He knew his life was being put in jeopardy… now he’s gone.”
“Mr. Hargrove posted about his health and safety concerns before the front doors on buses were shut to boost safety measures, and it’s something I’m going to think about for a long time,” Duggan continued.
During the press conference, Duggan said 106 Detroit Police Department employees, 24 Detroit Fire Department employees, and eight Detroit Department of Transportation employees had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Fox affiliate WJBK.
As of Monday afternoon, there have been at least 336,776 cases and 9,655 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to the New York Times. In Michigan, over 15,635 cases have been reported with at least 616 deaths.
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