D.C.

MetroAccess driver fired without hearing for calling 911 while driving

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJLA) - James McCray says his Ohio-based employer, First Transit, is in the process of firing him - for calling 911 while driving a MetroAccess van.

James McCray was fired from his job as a MetroAccess van driver because he called 911 while driving, because he thought he heard shots fired. (WJLA)

What's worse, he says he wasn't even given the chance to defend his actions in a hearing.

McCray was transporting a wheelchair-bound passenger on Alabama in Southeast Washington when he thought he heard gunshots - which later turned out to be rocks shattering the van's window.

"I was just trying to get that vehicle out of harms way," McCray explains. "I called for help. I called dispatch, 9-1-1, trying to get that vehicle to safety."

"I know at the end of the day, I did what was right in that situation, but not having the chance to fight or plead my case, that hurt," he added.

First Transit says it has a zero-tolerance policy for using cellular phones while operating a vehicle

But in reference to McCray, they said:

"In keeping with employee privacy law, as well as corporate HR policy, First Transit is not at liberty to discuss the details of individual personnel matters."

Residents in the area feel McCray's employer is treating him unfairly.

"I feel bad for that guy who got fired," said Bill Brownlow.

"I think they took it just a bit too far," said Nene Williams.

"You get fired for using a telephone in an emergency situation?" Joshua McMillan said in disbelief.

Charmaine Stradford said, "I wouldn't want to stand there and get shot. Who would stand there and get shot?"

McCray provided ABC7 with a copy of an employee discipline form sent to him, notifying him that he's on unpaid administrative leave pending further investigation. He was also told a hearing was scheduled for this past Thursday afternoon, where he could make a statement in his defense.

But McCray claims, that hearing never happened.

"No opportunity to speak on my behalf of the situation that happened that night," McCray said.

Because of his firing, McCray says he now must cancel a trip to California to visit his 2-year-old daughter.

"That was one of the first things that came to my mind when that happened, was, wow - I won't be able to financially afford to be able to see her," McCray said with tears in his eyes.

McCray said he's currently researching his rights and working with his union.

He also said, if he had to do it over again, he'd do the same thing - even though it breaks protocol.

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