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Daughter's warning after juvenile detention officer father dies from coronavirus

Stephen Chatman, 55, a juvenile detention officer, died this week
Posted at 8:45 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 00:24:01-04

A Valley woman has a warning to Arizonans who aren't taking coronavirus seriously after her dad, a Maricopa County juvenile detention officer, died this week.

Stephen Chatman, 55, passed away early Monday morning.

"I'll miss his hugs and his laughter and his smile," daughter Taryn Chatman said. "I got my smile from my dad."

His family could not be by Stephen's side when he died due to hospital visitation policies. A nurse facilitated a final phone call.

Taryn remembered she said, "We love you. We just want you to wake up, and he didn't."

Before his death, Stephen wrote on his Facebook page that he was originally diagnosed with the flu on March 15.

Two days later, on March 17, he thought he was okay enough to vote in the Presidential Preference Election. After learning of Stephen's death, the Maricopa County Recorder's Office informed poll workers and people who voted around the same time that they may have been exposed to the virus, according to a statement sent to ABC15.

A week before his death, Stephen's Facebook post said he felt like he "couldn't breathe at all" and coronavirus "came out of nowhere."

"Coronavirus is not some fake thing," Taryn said. "It is not something you should take lightly. I don't care how old you are, how young you are, how healthy you think you are."

Stephen was a juvenile detention officer, working in the Mesa facility. Taryn said it was his calling to work with troubled youth.

"My dad never judged kids for the mistakes that they make," she said.

Maricopa's Juvenile Probation Department sent a lengthy email to ABC15 saying they, too, are grieving the loss.

The department also outlined additional precautions to prevent the spread. The department has reduced the number of youth in detention by 30 percent in March. They limited visitation, increased disinfection, and made personal protective equipment available.

Stephen Chatman is well known in his native Pittsburgh where he worked for years as a radio host.

"That was his thing - to help people enjoy the music, tell them about the music" Taryn said. "He just wanted people to enjoy themselves and live happily."