Gates’ late husband, Eugene, had worked for the US Postal Service for 36 years. In June, he left home for his usual delivery route in the Lakewood, Texas, area. He had just been getting back to work after taking a week off, which was partially motivated by a desire to have some time to relax before Texas’s triple-digit-heat set in, according to Carla.
“He had a beautiful smile,” Gates said. “Once you got to know him…He would talk your ear off like you’ve known him for years.”The two would typically text each other throughout the day when they could, but that day, June 20, Carla didn’t hear from her husband.
It was 4:30 in the afternoon when Carla received a call from Eugene’s supervisor. He had passed out and she needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible.
“It wasn’t confusing. I knew it had to have been the heat,” Carla said. According to what Eugene’s then-supervisor told Carla, her husband collapsed in a neighbor’s front yard while delivering mail. The neighbor tried to administer CPR before paramedics arrived to rush him to the hospital, according to Carla’s recollection of events relayed to her.
And then the hospital’s chaplain called.
“I just fell on the floor. I just fell on the floor screaming and hollering,” Carla recalled when she arrived at her husband’s bedside in the hospital. “The last time I saw my husband, he had a tube down his throat. That was the last time I saw him.”
Eugene’s final autopsy report is still pending, meaning the official cause of death is unconfirmed, but Carla told CNN that her husband had “no health problems whatsoever.”