Less than two weeks after Detroit bus driver Jason Hargrove took to Facebook to call out a passenger for coughing and ignoring guidelines to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the 50-year-old died from complications of COVID-19. Hargrove, a father of six, shared the now-viral video on March 21, and complained about the disrespect workers like him faced in Detroit. His video has been seen more than 500,000 times and has over 18,900 shares.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Hargrove's union, the Amalgamated Transit Union, announced his death on Thursday, reports NBC News. Duggan said Hargrove's death "hit close to home" and praised him for sacrificing his life for his city. "He knew his life was being put in jeopardy, even though he was going to work for the citizens of Detroit every day, by somebody who just didn't care," Duggan continued. "By somebody who didn't take this seriously... and now he's gone."
In his Facebook video, Hargrove said a woman coughed on the bus several times without covering her mouth. He stressed it was important for people to take the coronavirus seriously and to avoid going out if they do not need to.
"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 that we in the middle of a pandemic, that lets me know that some folks don't care."
"It's folks dying out here," Hargrove continued. "I'm mad right about now because that s--- was uncalled for. And I'm trying to be the professional that they want me to be, so I kept my mouth closed. I feel violated. I feel violated for the folks that were on the bus when this happened."
On Thursday, Duggan suggested people watch the video and listen to Hargrove's message, adding that his death should "touch everybody in the city of Detroit, should touch everybody in the country."
"Some of his language is graphic, but I don't know how you can watch it and not tear up," Duggan said.
Before Hargrove's video was published, tensions between bus drivers and the city were high. They stopped working on March 17 and did not return until more measures were taken to protect them from the coronavirus. Duggan ordered passengers to enter and leave the buses from the back door and stopped fares. The Detroit Department of Transportation barred passengers from sitting right behind drivers as well.
"As Jason's haunting video makes clear, we need for all members of the public to respect our drivers and avoid public transportation if they are not feeling well," the department said Thursday. "If you are on a bus and do have to cough, keep a safe distance and please cover your mouth. We are working closely with Jason's family to support them and with our employees to ensure they have the resources they need during this unprecedented time."
Glenn Tolbert, the transit workers' union president, told the New York Times Hargrove was "frustrated" but "a professional guy to the end."0comments
"I just don't want his death to be in vain," Tolbert told the Times. "I want us to get through this thing, and I want the transit operators around the world to be recognized as first responders and given the necessary equipment."
Photo credit: Facebook Video