MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker,55, has died
The metro Atlanta community is grieving the death of MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker. As news spread of his passing, the details unfolded of his tragic passing on Friday. It was confirmed by the agency that Parker, who led the public transit agency through an era of expansion and pandemic, killed himself.
Parker committed suicide on Friday night after stepping in front of a train in the outskirts of the city. He was struck at the East Lake station in Atlanta at 10.30 pm, per a MARTA official. No motive for his suicide has been announced. Parker is survived by his wife Erin and his daughters.
The 55-year-old led MARTA for nearly four years. He oversaw its expansion plans in Atlanta and Clayton County and helped negotiate a new agreement among its member jurisdictions that paved the way for a 10-year sales tax extension.
Parker also helped negotiate a new labor agreement that gave workers 3% annual raises and boosted pay in other ways. Parker also helped navigate MARTA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic with increased cleaning and other steps to protect passengers and employees.
In 2020, Parker won a three-year contract extension, securing his job until 2026. His salary at the time was $366,575, according to the AJC. He was also eligible for a bonus of up to 10 percent of his base salary – or $36,657.
Days before his death, Parker gave the “State of MARTA” address and spoke to the bipartisan infrastructure bill approved by Congress — which included $923 million for transit in the region.
In a statement released on Saturday by MARTA, Board Chairwoman Rita Scott said:
“The MARTA Board of Directors grieve 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.” Scott went on to say, “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. 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. 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. ”
Leaders from across the Metro Atlanta community expressed condolences and paid tribute to Parker. In doing so, they all expressed sadness and concern, but also offered words of encouragement saying suicide is preventable and asked those who may be suffering to please seek help.
SEEKING HELP: Individuals with suicidal thoughts, or those who notice signs in others, can call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225, which is available around the clock. All calls are free and confidential. To find a mental health service provider, visit www.mygcal.com.