A few months ago we got an email from Tammy, who told us why we haven’t seen her smiling face on Muni for so many months. In November 2010, Tammy’s 19-year-old son, Deante Fuller, was killed in a car accident near Antioch. Deante’s friend, Steavean Taylor, was arrested and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run causing death, Paul Burgarino of the Contra Costa Times reported last year. Taylor had left Fuller trapped and dying in the car when they crashed into a tree, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Tammy has been on leave ever since the accident — she said that she did not want to put her passengers in danger while she coped with the trauma of her son’s death. We met with Tammy this month to talk more about her life since her son’s death.
At our meeting, Tammy brought framed photos of Deante, his girlfriend, and their baby daughter Myonie to show me. She and Deante were particularly close because he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and struggled in school, she told me. The day before his death, Deante helped a woman whose husband had threatened to dump her off the Antioch Bridge, Tammy said. Deante was driving and saw a woman running along the freeway. The woman told him that her husband had been threatening her and Deante drove her to the police station, Tammy said.
Tammy has been working on forming a support group in the Antioch area for parents who have lost their children to violence, she said. She’s made hundreds of fliers with pictures of Deante and her address and phone number, encouraging parents to contact her if they need someone to talk to. Other Muni drivers have been extremely supportive of her family, she said, and many of them were at Deante’s memorial service. She is also working on writing a book and creating a not-for-profit organization called Heavenly Bound Angels in Deante’s memory.
(Tammy and other parents were interviewed in this Contra Costa Times story about mothers of slain children.)
When we first learned about Tammy last year, we knew that she was someone who made living in San Francisco extraordinary. Hands down, running Muni Diaries is a worthwhile experience if only for stories like Greg’s:
I hop on the first bus, frustrated that yet again it would have been faster to drive. The bus driver apologizes, saying the two buses that were supposed to be in front of hers aren’t running today. Then she offers me my choice of wrapped candy from a dish by the fare machine and for the first time I actually look around at bus 2442 driven by Tammy.
It’s like a Fourth of July party inside Tammy’s bus. There are red white and blue streamers, balloons, coils that say “happy,” banners and party lanterns hanging from the railings. Large handwritten posters adorn the windows thanking her riders and spouting truths such as “Until Muni realizes that without our passengers there’s no Muni!” and pretty much everyone has a smile on their face.
Tammy told us that she is working on a website for her support group, but needs someone with more tech experience to set up a basic site. If you want to get in touch with Tammy, you can contact her here.