MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Shadell Hamilton had the perfect personality to greet passengers as a bus driver for Miami-Dade Transit.
“He was indeed a character, with a big presence,” his daughter Lakeisha Stevenson says.
Hamilton died over the weekend as a result of complications from COVID-19, becoming the third Miami-Dade Transit worker lost to the virus this summer.
He was 62.
Hamilton’s daughter says he loved his job for the past 31 years, until the pandemic crept in.
“We had heard some of his concerns about controlling the numbers on the bus, controlling the population. Also the lack of resources for cleaning the buses,” Stevenson said.
After working his final shift on July 31, Hamilton’s fears turned into reality when he tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 3.
His daughter said that around the third day Hamilton was battling the virus he started having trouble with his breathing.
His last post on Facebook was about fighting coronavirus, writing, “If you have been bless[ed] not to deal with COVID-19, thank God.”
“One of the qualities I adore about him the most is he was strong,” Stevenson said. “He was a very strong man, so to watch him go through this was extremely challenging.”
Another Miami-Dade bus driver, 42-year-old Lakeisha Snipes, died from complications of COVID-19 in July.
And weeks later, Jimmy Robinson, a longtime transit supervisor, died at 55 from the virus, highlighting the vulnerability of these public workers.
“The employers have to put policies in place to protect the employees, as well as the community,” Stevenson said. “We cannot continue to operate with old policies in a global pandemic.”
The Department of Transportation and Public Works released a statement reading: “It is with profound sadness that the department mourns the loss of one of our very own Metrobus operators. ... We are devastated by this passing and our hearts are heavy as we extend our deepest condolences to the family.”
They also say they have increased cleaning on those county vehicles, provided masks and other protective equipment to bus operators, and implemented social distancing protocols.