Factory worker who walked 20 miles to work flees Detroit home over violence and death fears

Housemates kept asking him for money, with even threats of violence

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The Independent US

A factory worker who walked more 20 miles a day to work for nearly a decade has moved out of his home as he was in fear of his life.

James Robertson received a free new Ford Taurus two weeks ago and $350,000 in donations after it was reported that he made most of the journey to and from his $10.55-per-hour job by foot.


He left a boarding-house this month that he lived in for the past 15 years above his landlady and girlfriend Tanya Fox, 61, who he described as having “liked to control everyone and everything.”

People in his local area kept making requests for money and some of his housemates even threatened him with violence, police said according to the Detroit Free Press.

“We had a meeting with him. He expressed interest that he did not feel safe,” said Detroit Police Captain Aric Tosqui.

James Robertson has a perfect attendance record at work

The new car even had to be kept in a police car park as he had fears that it might get stolen or vandalised.

He could not afford to get together enough money to pay for another car and the extortionate Detroit insurance premiums — after his previous vehicle broke down in 2005.

He has yet to receive the $350,000 raised in a GoFundMe.com account set up by supporters that was originally meant to pay for his new car before the Ford was given to him by a showroom.

Mr Robertson, 56, is expecting to meet with financial advisors after he was helped by the authorities to find temporary housing, so he can figure out where he wants to live for the long-term.

Mr Robertson no longer felt safe in his Detroit neighbourhood

His decision to leave his neighbourhood could have been influenced by a man being charged over the death of an 86-year-old pensioner from the city, who had disappeared three days after he won $20,000 in a lottery in December.

He is reported to have said after his move: “I wanted to get it over with — there were so many factors involved.”

Mr Robertson touched people’s hearts around the world after it was reported that he had started commuting at 8am to arrive for 2pm shifts that finished eight hours later.

He walked the marathon journey to his car part molding job five times a week

This means that he got back home at 4am and, based on his hourly wage, only received around $84 (approximately £55) per day before taxes for molding car parts.

He also has perfect attendance at the Schain Mold & Engineering factory in the Rochester Hills suburbs, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Mr Robertson had taken buses to work, however he also walked around 21 miles a day as the public transport network in Detroit does not cover the whole route.

The inspiring story of determination was initially reported by the Detroit Free Press after they were notified by Blake Pollock, a banker who had befriended Mr Robertson two years ago after he spotted him walking by his office on his way to work.