Detroit bus driver's widow: 'There's no goodbyes. There's no anything'
Desha Hargrove says she can't be certain her husband's death was caused by a woman's coughing fit on his city bus last month, but she believes the incident and his coronavirus infection are connected.
Jason Hargrove's death made national headlines last week after he died from COVID-19 just days after his angry Facebook post about a passenger who boarded his DDOT bus March 21 and coughed without covering her mouth.
Hargrove, a 50-year-old father of six, suffered a great deal before dying by himself in the DMC's Sinai-Grace Hospital, his wife said. Because of concerns about spread of the highly contagious virus, Hargrove, like other COVID-19 patients, was not allowed visitors.
"There's no goodbyes. There is no anything," Desha Hargrove said. "I was like please, I hope he is so heavily sedated that he doesn't even realize he is alone because that would have devastated him. My husband would have wanted us by his side. Knowing that these loved ones are just left to die alone is just the most heart-wrenching thing ever to me."
In his post, Jason Hargrove sounded the alarm about the dangers of coronavirus and the potential threat to him and other essential workers from people a woman like the passenger who didn't cover her cough.
"This is real," the driver said. "Y'all need to take this serious. ... I feel violated. I feel violated for the people that were on the bus."
The bus driver's widow, who spoke with The News by phone, also expressed her anger toward the woman who coughed on his bus in an email.
"SHAME ON YOU!!! I truly hope you have asked God to forgive you for your negligent behavior, Desha Hargrove wrote. "(The woman who coughed) took away A GREAT HUMAN BEING!! I’ll never get to hear him COUGH again. It is a possibility. It is my belief that something transpired because he was not well after that."
Desha Hargrove said her husband was wearing a mask that day as he drove his routes on Detroit's west side, ferrying city residents to jobs, medical appointments and other destinations.
She said her husband pulled the bus over and tried to disinfect the bus but never approached the woman because he liked to maintain professional decorum with passengers.
Desha Hargrove said the incident incensed her husband to the point that he constantly talked about it when he got home the day. The next day, he mentioned feeling "weird" with a malaise that would eventually morph into something bigger.
"He started out with the fever," she said. "He called my son and I into the room and he was just kind of like, 'I don't feel too well. My body feels kind of off. I feel like I'm coming down with a cold. I feel funny.'"
By March 23, Jason Hargrove, normally a jovial man full of laughter, was lethargic and "really wasn't himself," his wife said.
A day later, he was so sick that he asked her to take him to the hospital. Medical staff checked him out and sent him home with orders to quarantine himself and take cough syrup, Tylenol and blood pressure medicine.
"The fever started to just progressively get worse," said Desha Hargrove. "He started the coughing. The coughing was pretty bad. The cough syrup wasn't doing anything."
A few days later, Hargrove started experiencing "extreme chills" and his fingertips began to turn blue, said his wife, who took him back to the hospital. Again, medical personnel sent him back home after checking him out.
"They listened to his lungs. His temperature was 99," said Desha Hargrove. "They said they were no signs to them that required immediate attention as far as the oxygen to where his cuticles were blue."
At home, he began "rapidly" deteriorating, she said.
"He was just getting worse and worse," she said. "He was like lethargic. You could tell he was out of it. He was so miserable."
On March 29, Desha Hargrove said her husband told her to take him back to the hospital because he was not able to catch his breath or stop coughing.
"He said, 'I need some oxygen. I can't breathe. All I need is some oxygen,'" said Desha Hargrove, who dropped her husband off at the hospital.
It was the last time she saw him alive.
"I never got to see him," she said. "I kept texting his phone just begging for a reply ... a response ... something. I just knew I was going to get the call saying, "OK babe, come get me. It never happened."
Desha Hargrove said she only found out about her husband's death when she called the hospital Wednesday of last week to see how he was coming along.
"My husband had died and no one even told me, to be honest," she said.
A DMC spokesman declined to comment on Hargrove's case.
On Monday, Desha Hargrove was awaiting a call from a Detroit funeral home so she could make final arrangements for her husband. She said she is saddened by the restrictions that the COVID-19 outbreak has forced funeral directors to make for services.
"It would be my heart's desire, of course, to be able to honor my husband well," she said. "I know that there's some restrictions. I try not to have my hopes high for a particular type of service and then be let down."
Desha Hargrove said her husband loved his job as a city bus driver.
"He felt like he was the president of the United States. ... That's how proud he was to move the citizens of Detroit," she said.
"They're transporting everybody ... all kinds ... from everywhere," said Desha Hargrove. "Give them what they need. My husband's death was so unnecessary ... negligence (by) a person. I'm just hoping all this brings a little more awareness and people really, really take (the COVID-19 outbreak) serious."