Hearse Driver, Funeral Director Fired After Stopping for Coffee on Way to Funeral for Veteran

A bystander posted photos and video of the hearse, and it went viral.

— -- A Florida hearse driver and a funeral director are out of a job after taking a coffee break on their way to an Army veteran’s funeral.

Rob Carpenter said he confronted the two when he spotted the hearse with the flag-draped coffin of 84-year-old Lt. Col. Jesse Coleman unattended at a Dunkin’ Donuts in New Port Richey. Carpenter then started taking photos and video because the driver did not seem remorseful about the incident, he told ABC News. The video went viral when Carpenter shared it with the Veteran Warriors group on Facebook.

The hearse was driving from Veterans Funeral Care in Clearwater to the service in Lecanto, which is less than 90 miles away. Veterans Funeral Care President Jim Rudolph said sometimes the drivers stop for bathroom breaks, but someone is supposed to stay with the vehicle at all times.

During a military transport, however, the hearse is not supposed to make any stops, he said.

"When a car leaves the funeral home with a flag on it, it’s on a stage ... and we’re in ceremony mode,” Rudolph said. “Going into buy a doughnut with a flag-covered casket in your coach was a terrible lack of judgement."

Rudolph declined to comment on why the decision was made to fire, rather than suspend, the hearse driver and funeral director.