The original story has been updated to better reflect the disabilities John Hayes had as well as a misspelling.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A beloved Oklahoma City coffee shop employee was tragically hit and killed early Monday morning in an auto-pedestrian accident on the city’s northwest side.
KFOR has featured John Hayes several times on KFOR’s In Your Corner segment after a man he worked with and trusted conned him out of nearly $30,000 under the guise of a catering joint-venture. The suspect, Ronald Taylor, was charged with a felony.
This week, Hayes was struck by a minivan while walking near Memorial and Eastern. Now, his friends and coworkers are remembering the legacy he left behind.
“Loyal is probably his defining hallmark,” said Tim Herbel, executive director of Not Your Average Joe. “If he was your friend, he was your friend for life, and he would take a bullet for you.”
Hayes’ story is one filled with many struggles and tragedies.
He was born with several disabilities. Hayes’ Hemifacial Microsomia led him to lose sight in one eye at a young age. He underwent several reconstructive surgeries as a teenager.
Hayes met Herbel more than three decades ago, the pair quickly becoming inseparable.
Tim helped John land a job at Not Your Average Joe – a non-profit coffee shop that employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“John’s legally blind; he’s legally deaf,” said Herbel. “But we tell everybody he’s legally funny because he has this joke, ‘You want me to bake your cake but not decorate it,’ and that’s John.”
Hayes’ life wasn’t easy, but he knew how to put a smile on others’ faces.
“People can stare, they can point, laugh all they want,” said Zach Bolton, who lived with John for eight months. “But John really didn’t care, he beat his own drum, and he knew it.”
John lived a hard knock life. He was hit by a car more than twice. The last time was Monday morning as he walked to his doctor’s appointment.
Officials with the Oklahoma City Police Department say Hayes was walking across Eastern Ave. just north of 140th when he was struck by a northbound driver.
Later that same day, Herbel got the news.
“It was a woman on the other line identifying herself with OU E.R. who said that John had been hit while crossing the street,” said Herbel.
The nurse stated that Hayes had internal bleeding and could not be saved.
Hayes’ friends are comforted in knowing he has left behind his emotional trauma and physical limitations.
“John spent the last 18 months of his life handing over his addictions. It took years and years for him to get to this point, but in late 2020 he submitted to God’s will and entered an intensive therapy program that helped him finally find the strength he needed to break free,” a post written on Facebook Nate Ison, who has sponsored John in his recovery for the past ten years.
He was a helper, a fantastic cook, but most importantly, a friend.
“John is gone, and my heart stopped because the heart of Not Your Average Joe stopped. John was not your average John,” said Herbel. “I’m only sad because you didn’t get to meet him.”
If you’d like to honor John or help with his final expenses, donations can be made to Not Your Average Joe online or via mail at 509 Wilkinson Dr., Moore, OK 73160. Please leave a note in the memo.
OKCPD says the driver was cooperative in the investigation and no charges or arrests have been made.