PHOENIX - Well-known and beloved Downtown Phoenix Ambassador Hans Hughes has died of his injuries, a month after being hit by a suspected drunk driver.
He passed away Sept. 21 at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.
Police say Hughes was hit while riding his bike on Aug. 20 at 1st and Fillmore Streets in downtown Phoenix. They say the person behind the wheel was cited for driving under the influence.
Weeks later, he showed signs of improvement. In a Sept. 6 Facebook post, Hughes’ sister said he was awake, responding and off a ventilator. But over the weekend, close friend and former co-worker Lauren Potter said in a GoFundMe post his condition rapidly declined, and says his heart stopped for more than 20 minutes before he was resuscitated.
"So many people downtown, whether it’s artists, musicians, visitors, or residents, they know Hans. To know him is to love him. He’s such a bright light in the community," she told FOX 10 Aug. 24.
"It’s really a tragedy that someone so selfless and kind and caring can spend so much of their life caring for others, but then have this happen to them. So, we are just grateful for the outpouring of support from the community so far," she said.
Hughes traveled on his bicycle to and from work and while on the job. He worked as a Downtown Phoenix Ambassador for nearly 12 years, helping people on the street with directions to events, venues and assisting the public in other ways.
On Sept. 2, hundreds of bike riders rolled through downtown Phoenix, with the message: Help Hans Heal. They also raised awareness about bicycle safety.
Friends speak out following Hughes' death
The death of Hughes has left a community in Downtown Phoenix in mourning.
"One of the most devastating blows I can think of for our community," said Potter. "Hans was one of the most kind, pure-hearted, just amazing people that I know. He just embodied love and kindness."
"He was so welcome, so inviting, and just made people feel like they were meant to be there," said another friend, identified only as ‘Sara.'
According to family members, Hughes' condition was improving, and he was supposed to be released on Monday. Over the weekend, however, he suffered a pulmonary embolism, and his conditions took a turn for the worst.
"I've had waves of emotions over the last few weeks and the past 24, 38 hours," said Potter. "It hasn't fully sunk in yet, and I just am devastated."
Hughes' employer, Downtown Phoenix Inc., has issued a statement on his death, saying downtown has "lost a superhero.
In a tweet, Mayor Kate Gallego said she is "deeply saddened by the news."
Funeral services are pending.
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