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In a shocking and public tragedy, Jeffrey Parker, who has led the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) as CEO, has died of suicide.
According to a spokeswoman for MARTA, Stephany Fisher, Parker walked in front of a train in the East Lake Station in DeKalb County at approximately 10:30 PM last Friday, the New York Post reported.
“He was an outstanding leader and steward of MARTA whose passing leaves us all heartbroken. We are devastated at this loss as we valued Jeff’s leadership and looked forward to him bringing his vision for transit to fruition. 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,” said MARTA Chairwoman Rita Scott in a statement.
Others began to immediately join in with their condolences, such as Governor Brian Kemp, who took to Twitter to eulogize Parker:
Marty, the girls, & I are saddened to learn about the tragic passing of Jeffrey Parker – GM/CEO of MARTA. In addition to a remarkable professional career in the public/private sectors, Jeffrey was known for his civic engagement and support for the advancement of his communities.
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) January 15, 2022
Despite being the transit manager for one city, Parker had accumulated some national recognition, and the MARTA website said that Parker had worked in a variety of different transportation departments, including Connecticut and Massachusetts. The website also stated that Parker was considered a highly influential figure in Atlanta, making the lists of such publications as Atlanta Magazine’s Most Powerful People of 2020, and Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Power 100. Parker was also recognized by the Atlanta Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar as “Man of the Year” for his record on hiring and promoting women.
Parker had led MARTA for about 4 years, and is credited with overseeing expansion plans throughout Atlanta and Clayton County, and was credited with a “solid performance” during the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which saw the transit system placed under heavy stress from hundreds of thousands of fans. In addition, Parker was at the helm when the Covid-19 pandemic began, which was arguably the worst period of all for any major transportation department when rider fares plummeted while employees were unable to work due to illness spikes.
While the public statements make it clear that Parker’s death was a suicide, no motive or reason has been given for what prompted the suicide. No family or survivors have been publicly mentioned.
In the meantime, the MARTA Board of Directors named Collie Greenwood as interim CEO and General Manager, according to a tweet from the @CEOMARTA Twitter account:
In a unanimous vote, the MARTA Board of Directors has named Collie Greenwood as interim General Manager and CEO of MARTA at a specially called board meeting on Saturday, January 15, 2022, held after the sudden death of Jeffrey Parker. pic.twitter.com/e3JEt3GUjz
— CEOMARTA (@CEOMARTA) January 15, 2022
If you or someone you know is having thoughts about hurting themselves, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
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