KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Besides spending time with his fiancée and traveling with family, Ian Hawkins devoted himself to his job at FedEx on Highway 210 where he worked his way up from a package handler to an area manager.
"Ian was a big force there. Good worker, you know, totally just kind, helped everybody," said Stacey Schulz, Hawkins' mother.
Schulz remembers asking him how the company was handling COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic.
"They were even more busy than ever, and he said, 'Well, I'm wearing a mask.' And I said, 'Please do,'" Schulz said.
As everyone around him got a COVID-19 vaccine, Hawkins kept pushing it off.
"He just — with work and all of that — just had not," Schulz said. "And I wasn't going to make it whether you were vaccinated or not be whether I was going to spend time with my son or not."
Late last month, Ian wasn't feeling well, first with a fever that went away before his doctor's visit.
"Then a couple of days on down the way and he said, 'I hurt.' But he's at work, and so he was just real brief — you know, 'I hurt,'" Schulz recalled.
Hawkins went back to the doctor with chest congestion and was eventually sent to the emergency room with COVID-19 symptoms.
He was hospitalized on a Friday. In the beginning, he was in high spirits.
But his conditions quickly deteriorated.
By Monday night, he was intubated, and two days later the 27-year-old died.
"They did everything they could do," Schulz said. "And we thought that there had — that he turned the corner."
Hawkins passed away less than three months before his wedding day. His family is now planning a celebration of life at the end of this month.
"It is a community of us that are in pain now. But he wouldn't want us to mope around," Schulz said.
She adds that one of Hawkins' supervisors has informed her that they're working to bring a vaccine clinic to the facility in the next two to three weeks to give workers a chance to get the shot without having to go off-site.
Schulz hopes others can also get vaccinated to prevent more tragedies.
FedEx Ground provided the following statement to KSHB 41 News:
“First and foremost, we are deeply saddened by the loss of our team member, Ian Hawkins, and extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and co-workers during this difficult time.
The safety and well-being of our team members and customers remains our top priority. Throughout the pandemic, we have taken significant measures to help ensure the safety of our workforce and customers while providing an essential service. We continue to monitor guidance by the Centers for Disease Control, and other experts, and are taking recommended precautions in terms of team member and customer health and safety, including mask usage, implementing symptom and temperature screenings as well as process changes in all locations to enable social distancing where possible.
Team members are advised to take any signs of illness seriously and seek medical attention as needed. If a team member is feeling ill or has been diagnosed with an illness, our sick policies include a range of options, including paid time off.
We are strongly encouraging team members to get vaccinated, and are actively working to help ensure they are aware of the numerous opportunities that are widely available in communities across the country to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.”