Wife Speaks Out After Postal Worker Husband Dies on His Route During Texas Heat Wave

Eugene Gates loved his job and knew how to work outside on hot days, his wife says. But she's angry with the U.S. Postal Service after her husband collapsed and died on his mail route.

The Texas wife of a veteran mail carrier is speaking out after her husband collapsed and died this week on his route while the heat index soared to 110 degrees.

“I don’t wish this on anyone. A mother, a father, a son, a wife, anyone,” Carla Gates told WFAA-TV. “To have to go to a hospital and be told your husband died in the line of duty, I don’t want that to happen to anyone.”

“My husband was trying to complete his assignment. That was his job. And the heat got to him,” the widow said. “No one should have been outside working like that when the heat index is that high. No one. Deliver the mail earlier or later, or wait.

“Am I mad at the postal service? Yes. Am I angry? Yes. The mail will still be there, but my husband won’t," she continued.

Her 66-year-old husband was also an Army veteran, she said, and had begun working for the U.S. Postal Service more than 30 years ago.

“He liked to walk, he liked being outside, and he loved his route," she said. He knew to take precautions and to take extra fluids on his long daily walks delivering the mail, she said.

He walked about eight miles a day.

On Tuesday he collapsed in a yard on his route. The homeowner rushed out and began to perform CPR, but Gates was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

His cause of death will be determined in an autopsy, the postal service said. The federal mail provider publicly expressed sympathy to its longtime employee and his family. 

Last year, the postal service implemented a heat protection plan, which educates staff and management about the dangers of heat exposure and alerts them when temperatures are expected to hit 80 degrees.

The National Association of Letter Carriers, the union representing Gates and his fellow mail persons, issued a statement hailing the longtime employee.

“On behalf of NALC, I send my deepest sympathies to Brother Gates’s family, friends and colleagues,” President Brian Renfroe said. “Eugene was a dedicated letter carrier with a long and successful Postal Service career. He will be greatly missed by everyone, particularly his fellow branch members and customers.”

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