Two hearse drivers lost their jobs in Florida for parking at a Dunkin’ Donuts shop last week just before 9:00 am with the American Flag draped coffin of Lt. Col. Jesse Coleman – a Korean and Vietnam War veteran – waiting for burial in the back.
A New Port Richey man, Rob Carpenter, who couldn’t believe what he saw, stopping long enough to take photos and videos with his cell phone, which he shared with the group “Veteran Warriors” who posted them on Facebook.
Carpenter asked one of the drivers to confirm if there was “really a body in here?” and “He says, ‘Yes’”. Then I said, ‘So you have a dead soldier in the back of your hearse and you’re stopping to get coffee?’ And he didn’t say anything.”
Lauren Price, who works with Veteran Warriors and has done funeral detail before, called the funeral home that employed the drivers. Price said:
“I’ve been on funerals where we had to travel four hours to do a funeral in full uniform in the dead of summer in Florida and we didn’t stop to get coffee…”
Veterans Funeral Care president Jim Rudolph, which prepared the hearse and counts veteran care as his core business said the drivers’ showed “a lack of respect” for the deceased:
“What could they have been thinking?” “I haven’t got the foggiest idea.” “That’s absolutely terrible.” “It’s not what we do. That’s absolutely a total lack of respect.”
According to Kaitlan Collins, writing for The Daily Caller:
“When Rudolph called the widow to tell her what happened, she said she was saddened by it but didn’t want the two men fired.” Rudolph fired them both anyways, despite the two having years of experience. “I think if they had the ability to turn back the day, they’d do things different”, Rudolph said.
According to the Veterans Funeral Care website, Lt. Col. Coleman served a tour in Korea and two tours in Vietnam and received honors for his service including two Bronze Star Medals and two Army Commendation Medals.