He was almost forgotten in political reaction to crash. Jeff Monroe's co-workers changed that.

Story highlights

  • Driver Jeffrey Monroe was saving money to take wife to Tokyo
  • Monroe died in crash that killed NFL player Edwin Jackson

(CNN)At the Indianapolis company where Jeffrey Monroe worked the overnight shift for decades, his supervisor personally called the 20 or so people in his department to tell them Monroe had been killed in the crash that also took the life of NFL linebacker Edwin Jackson.

"We're a small company," Eric Rushing said Wednesday. "Everybody is like a family. It was harder than I anticipated."
    While the death of Jackson has been politicized -- police arrested a twice-deported undocumented immigrant in the suspected drunken driving crash -- Monroe's co-workers at Allison Payment Systems want to make sure his life isn't overlooked.
    Early Sunday, Jeff Monroe was working part time as a ride-share driver. His passenger, Jackson, became ill, and Monroe pulled over to assist him. They were struck and killed.
    "His story has gotten swept under the rug," said Rushing, the company's director of operations. "He was trying to do a good thing."
    Monroe is being remembered as a hard worker and devoted husband who was saving money to take his wife to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
    "He did everything for me," Deborah Monroe, his wife of nearly 24 years, told CNN affiliate WRTV. "He once told me that the reason he got up in the morning was because of me."

    'It's about celebrating Jeff's life'

    Monroe, who would have turned 55 this month, had been a computer printer operator at Allison Payments Systems since 1998. To those who knew him, it didn't matter that he never played for the Indianapolis Colts.
    He was a big Colts fan though. And he was a fixture on the 11 p.m.-7 a.m. shift, where he printed bills and explanation of benefits for various companies in preparation for mailing.
    "He had a great personality, always up and willing to help his co-workers," said Joseph "JP" Thomas, company president and CEO.
    "He was diligent. Everybody admired him. Everybody who knew him had a fondness for him."
    On Tuesday, President Donald Trump injected politics into the crash involving an undocumented immigrant. He tweeted that it was "disgraceful that a person illegally in our country" killed Jackson, who played for the Indianapolis Colts,.
    Trump called on Democrats to "get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!" There was no mention of Monroe.
    Some members of Indiana's congressional delegation also tweeted their outrage.
    On Wednesday, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, a Democrat, singled out Trump, saying it was "ghoulish and inappropriate" to politicize the deaths.
    Curry filed four felony charges against Manuel Orrego-Savala, a Guatemalan citizen.
    "We're not paying attention to that," Thomas said of the focus on the suspect's immigration status rather than the lives lost.
    "We knew Jeff and that's what it's all about. Other things will take their course. For us, it's about celebrating Jeff's life and mourning Jeff."

    'This is who my husband was'

    Thomas said Monroe loved the Christmas season, especially when the company offered free gift wrapping for workers.
    "He was known for showering his wife with hundreds of gifts," he said. "He loved his wife. He was a good person. He was kind of a Santa Claus."
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    Early Sunday, Monroe had stopped his 2018 Lincoln on the side of Interstate 70 in Indianapolis because Jackson, his passenger, had become ill, according to Indiana State Police.
    Both men were standing outside the car when a black Ford F-150 pickup drove onto the emergency shoulder and struck them.
    Monroe was thrown into the center lane, according to court documents. A state trooper spotted the wreckage, and, as he slowed to stop for the crash, his vehicle struck Monroe's body in the center lane. Jackson and Monroe were pronounced dead at the scene.
    "This is who my husband was," Deborah Monroe told WRTV. "It does not surprise me that he was killed helping someone else."
    Jackson's family, in a statement posted on the Colts' website, expressed gratitude for the "overwhelming expressions of love, condolences, concern, and care during this sudden and tragic loss." The family also offered "deepest condolences and prayers" to Monroe's loved ones.
    Monroe and his wife had no children, but she told WRTV they considered their two dozen-plus nephews and nieces their own.
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    Rushing said Monroe and his wife liked to travel. They went on cruises and had recently gone to Italy. Monroe was saving money from his part-time driving gig to take her Tokyo for the Olympics.
    "He worked holidays," Rushing said. "If I needed anything, he would be there Christmas Day or whatever he had to do. He worked as much overtime as he could to do things and enjoy life."
    Said Thomas, "The sad part is, I know he was doing something good, trying to get somebody home safely and it didn't end up that way."
    Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said he will pay for the men's funerals. Allison Payments Systems will give workers time to bid Monroe a final farewell.