A U.S. postal carrier died on his route this week, and his widow said Wednesday she believes he died from heat exhaustion.
John Watzlawick, 57, of Blue Springs collapsed. He was found about 2 p.m. Tuesday by a passer-by near 35 N. Cottage St. He was rushed to Independence's Centerpoint Medical Center where he later died.
The Jackson Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and whether heat exhaustion is to blame or a contributing factor.
His devastated widow, Kay Watzlawick, told KCTV Wednesday that she believes the intense heat led to her husband's death, but doesn't know for certain.
"They're out there in the heat," she said. "Nobody's checking on them."
Temperatures in the Kansas City area reached up to 106 temperatures on Tuesday.
"He ate lunch on the route," his son, Jason Watzlawick, said. "He's right there in the heat all the time. About the only time he gets relief is if he has to go into a business or a school."
Watzlawick had been with the Postal Service for 28 years. His widow said he would have celebrated his 58th birthday on Aug. 1. The couple was married for 33 years.
Now his distraught family is planning a funeral rather than a birthday celebration. He is survived by five sons and four grandchildren.
Those who live and work along his route remembered his reliability and friendly manner.
"Every day we knew when he was going to be here," said Amanda Jennings, who lives along the route.
Representatives for the Postal Service declined comment. Richard Watkins, a spokesman for the agency, said safety is of utmost importance and that carrier's health comes before delivering the mail.
But his widow feels that is not the case. She said her husband tried to call in sick the day before he died, but was told he needed to work because the agency was short staffed.
"We don't care that you have a family. He put that post office above family. And now he's not going to be with his precious grand kids," she said.
His son said his pride drove him to work during dangerous conditions.
Watkins said carriers are given frozen jugs of water to take on their routes and they can call a supervisor when they feel ill or need help.
Some carriers are allowed to start work before 5 a.m. in an effort to get their route completed before the worst of the day's heat. But other carriers and their families told KCTV5 that their supervisors won't let them adjust their schedule. They said the only relief they get is from residents providing them with a cool beverage.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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