MCKINNEY, Texas — A McKinney family has been blindsided after their loved one, a veteran United Parcel Service (UPS) worker of almost 30 years, collapsed during his route last week and died on Sunday.
In a statement on Tuesday, a UPS spokesperson told WFAA that 57-year-old Chris Begley had died.
"We are saddened by the loss of our driver, Christopher Begley, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We are cooperating with the authorities as they continue investigating the cause of death. As the investigation is ongoing, we respectfully defer questions about this incident to the local authorities," the statement read.
Begley began driving with UPS in 1995, according to President and Principal Officer Dave Reeves of Local Teamsters 767, of Forest Hill.
Teamsters represents more than 340,000 rank-and-file UPS workers nationwide.
Reeves added that Begley was looking forward to retirement after giving 28 years to the company. Begley was a father of two and a loving husband, his family told WFAA.
While an investigation is in its early stages, Reeves believes that Begley's death was heat-related. A cause of death will soon be determined.
"UPS needs to do a thorough investigation to provide his family some answers as to what happened on his final day with the company," Reeves said.
Reeves told WFAA that Begley was delivering a package to a business in Farmersville on Aug. 23 – a day when the highest temperature reached 101 degrees. Heat index values were up to 108 degrees, and a heat advisory was in place.
Begley, according to Reeves, collapsed to the floor in the Farmersville business and was attended to by those who worked there. He said a UPS supervisor drove to his location in his personal vehicle, left the company truck at the site, and took Begley home.
The 57-year-old was later hospitalized and died four days later. Reeves wants to know why Begley wasn't taken to a hospital immediately.
"What did UPS do for their employee to try and prevent any of this," Reeves asked. "Once they found out his condition, what did they do next?"
A UPS spokesperson told WFAA that Begley contacted a supervisor on Aug. 23 about what happened, and the supervisor responded to the location to ensure he had water and was resting in a cool environment. The spokesperson added that UPS offered medical attention, but Begley declined several times, was taken home and removed from service.
Begley requested a few days off and was granted them. The spokesperson said the company received word that Begley had been hospitalized on Sunday and later had passed away.
Reeves contested that if Begley didn't have the faculties to understand the seriousness of getting medical attention due to his symptoms, a supervisor shouldn't have taken him home.
"What was the communication between our member and UPS as a company? They have a very extensive heat-related injury prevention program that UPS has developed. Did they follow that?" Reeves said.
UPS has been vocal about taking this heat wave seriously – posting in June about how the company spends $343 million yearly on safety training. The company said it had partnered with another company to give drivers cooling sleeves and hats. It also said it had provided cooling fans in 95,000 package cars.
The heat was an issue when union leaders and the company settled on a new labor contract earlier this year.
Presently, A/C is not available in package cars.
"We have agreed to equip all newly-purchased U.S. small package delivery vehicles with air conditioning starting Jan. 1, 2024. Where possible, new vehicles will be allocated to the hottest parts of the country first," UPS officials said.
This isn't a UPS worker's first death from the heat. In 2021, the family of 23-year-old Jose Cruz Rodriguez Jr. sued the company after Jose was found dead in the parking lot of his work facility in August.
The suit claimed that Jose died from a heat stroke and that UPS was negligent. Reeves told WFAA that the case was eventually settled.
In June, 66-year-old Eugene Gates collapsed and died while delivering letters door-to-door for USPS in Dallas. His family contests that heat was why Gates died but is still awaiting a full autopsy report.
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