Travel

GRTC operator succumbs to COVID-19

GRTC is reporting that was it was notified late last night of the death of a bus operator who died from complications caused by the virus COVID-19.

John Thrower, 49, was admitted to a local hospital on Aug. 16 and died on Sept. 23. Thrower, who was diabetic, had been with GRTC since Jan. 5, 2015. His last day at work was Aug. 15.

He leaves behind a wife, a son and extended family members.

“Last night, I heard the heartbreaking news that John Thrower passed,” said GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm. “He was a bright and beautiful soul, and I was always inspired by the positive light he cast here at GRTC.

“I mourn this tragic loss to our family and our community and extend my deepest condolences to his family and to all who knew him.”

Timm said that for months, GRTC has continuously implemented safety measures and precautions to keep employees and riders as protected as possible without cutting off the essential trips needed to keep our community connected to housing, jobs, food, and health care.

“But the virus can be anywhere, anytime, unseen, and we are all at risk each time we step out of our homes and every time someone enters our businesses,” said Timm. “Still, GRTC exists to serve our community’s essential mobility needs.

“John was proud to be a GRTC Operator, and he did everything he could to safely serve the public during this crisis while volunteering many hours and days of overtime to support the essential mobility needs of our community.”

Tracey Thrower, John’s wife, shared with local reporters at the beginning of September that her husband has been on a ventilator for days and suffered numerous medical complications including a minor heart attack, high blood pressure, kidney failure which required dialysis.

“I need people to wake-up,” said Tracey in an interview earlier this month. “This is not a hoax, this is a pandemic and people are dying every day.”

Tracey, who recovered from COVID-19 after contracting it from her husband, said then that riders are not practicing social distancing and buses are crowded because fare was suspended during the pandemic.

She also said that GRTC is a great company to work for and she’s grateful for the protocols already in place, however, she wants to see the rules enforced more.

GRTC notes that passengers are required to wear face coverings and 50,000 masks were distributed to staff members along with hand sanitizer, and drivers have the right to stop the bus if someone is not wearing a mask.

“This loss to GRTC hits directly into our hearts and reminds us all how deadly this disease can be, and how all of us are susceptible. We share in Mrs. Thrower’s grief.”

Free counseling is available to all GRTC employees and their families through GRTC’s Employee Assistance Program.

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