A Miami-Dade County bus operator died over the Labor Day weekend after his family believes he contracted COVID-19 while on the job.
Shadel Hamilton started his shift every day at a bus terminal in northeast Miami-Dade. His family said he loved being a bus driver, but felt he was at-risk going to work during the pandemic.
Hamilton, 62, worked for Miami-Dade Transit as a bus operator for 30 years. When the coronavirus pandemic struck, his daughter said he expressed concern.
"When they talked about prexisting conditions he knew he had a little bit of things to be concerned about because he had some heart issues," Lakeisha Stevenson said.
On August 3, Hamilton was diagnosed with COVID-19 and after spending more than a month in the hospital in the intensive care unit, he passed away on Labor Day.
"This has shattered our world, it shattered my mother’s world, not only with her dealing with COVID, she now is a widow at 60 years old," Stevenson said. "It's difficult to pick up the pieces. We didn’t expect this outcome."
Hamilton's family firmly believes he contracted the virus while on the job.
"What he couldn’t control was the population of homeless that would get on the bus and not having a system in place to sort of control the amount of people on the bus that could possibly decrease the exposure," Stevenson said.
The Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public works confirmed Hamilton was the third bus operator in the county to die of COVID-19.
“It is with profound sadness that the department mourns the loss of one of our very own Metrobus operators. The operator’s last day at work was July 31. We were advised the employee tested positive for COVID-19 on August 3. We are devastated by this passing and our hearts are heavy as we extend our deepest condolences to the family," the department said in a statement.
Drivers and riders have to wear masks on busses and the Miami-Dade Transit website said they've implemented safety measures including requiring riders to board through the rear entrance.
Hamilton leaves behind six children and 11 grandchildren.