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We never know the silent battles that other people are fighting.

MARTA, or the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority,...

Source: SOPA Images / Getty

In a tragic turn of events, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that General Manager and CEO of Atlanta’s MARTA public transportation system Jeffrey Parker died late Friday night. The transit agency confirmed that the 56-year-old committed suicide by stepping in front of one of his own trains. The DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office is unable to release further details about Parker’s passing until after the investigation is finished.

“The MARTA Board of Directors grieves the shocking death of our GM/CEO Jeff Parker who has died by suicide. He was an outstanding leader and steward of MARTA whose passing leaves us all heartbroken,” Chairwoman Rita Scott said in a statement on Saturday.

“As chairwoman and on behalf of my fellow MARTA board members, we are devastated at this loss as we valued Jeff’s leadership and looked forward to him bringing his vision for transit to fruition,” Scott said. “The entire metro Atlanta region owes him a debt of gratitude for his transformational efforts and we will not stop working to build on the foundation he created.”

Since Parker became MARTA’s General Manager and CEO in 2018, he oversaw the most ambitious expansion plans in the system’s history, handled the overwhelming crowds during the 2019 Super Bowl, helped negotiate 3% annual raises for workers, and kept the buses and trains running throughout the pandemic. He was recognized for championing the rights of workers and the communities that relied on the MARTA system the most.

“Jeff understood that MARTA is more than just a transportation system—it represents connectivity for residents and visitors of our great city and region,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement. My thoughts and prayers are with Jeff’s family and friends, and with the staff and board at MARTA, during this very difficult time.

“As we struggle to understand the complexity of this tragedy, we grieve with and for his wife Erin, his daughters and all of Jeff’s family and friends as well as his MARTA family,” Chairwoman Scott said. “As we continue to grieve, we want you to know that suicide is preventable and help is available to you. For access to services and immediate crisis help, call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225, available 24/7.”

MARTA’s board of directors named Collie Greenwood, the current Deputy General Manager, as MARTA’s interim CEO at an emergency meeting.

Our hearts go out to Jeff Parker’s loved ones.

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