Marquette still feels the effects of tragedy

Joe+Daniels+served+as+dean+of+the+College+of+Business+Administration.+%0A%0APhoto+courtesy+of+the+Office+of+Marketing+and+Communication

Joe Daniels served as dean of the College of Business Administration. Photo courtesy of the Office of Marketing and Communication

“It was surreal and, I mean, this is stuff you see on TV. A priest and three police officers ringing your doorbell. You know, that’s just not something that you think happens in real life. I just kind of left my body when that happened,” Lora Daniels, Joe Daniels’ wife, said.

Former Dean of the College of Business Administration Joe Daniels was killed Feb. 11, 2020 in front of Straz Tower after being struck by a car. Jordan Jones, 22, was initially charged with a hit and run resulting in death and driving with a revoked license causing death, Lora said.

After Jones struck Daniels, Jones requested his significant other to switch seats with him, making her the person of interest for the crime for the first few days of the investigation.

Recently, a plea deal was given for Jones to take the lesser charge of having a suspended license, dismissing up to 25 years in prison with a hit and run because he technically didn’t leave the scene, according to a criminal complaint dated Jan. 20, 2021 with the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

“By virtue of him convincing his girlfriend to take the blame for it, the DA saw that as running from the incident,” Lora said.

Lora stated that as more information was gathered to prove Jones was the driver, Jones and his attorney came to the district attorney and offered a plea deal to take the lesser charge. Initially, Lora requested Jones to still take the hit and run charge. As the investigation continued to drag on, Lora eventually said she didn’t want this to go through a trial and agreed to the lesser charge.

“In my mind, the bottom line is that two young people experienced a horrific event that night that they’re going to carry with them for the rest of their lives,” Lora said. “I can’t imagine that they’re ever going to get that out of their heads. And they’re going to have to live with that.”

The criminal complaint outlines what happened on the night of Feb. 11, 2020. Joe exited the Wisconsin Club across from Straz Tower. He was attending a business dinner there along with other university leaders, including current interim dean of the College of Business Administration, Tim Hanley.

Security footage showed Joe walking south on 10th St. and across West Wisconsin Ave. A red Infiniti driven by Jones came north from the I-43 northbound off ramp. As Joe began to cross west on 10th St., the Infiniti appeared to “accelerate rapidly,” colliding with Joe, as stated in the criminal complaint.

Jones is scheduled to be sentenced February 3, 2022 at 10 a.m.

“I plan on making a statement about what this has done to myself. My kids lost their dad,” Lora said. “I have a granddaughter on the way that will never know her grandfather, and Marquette lost one of the most beloved professors who made an impact on the lives of so many students and colleagues.”

The event has Lora watching after her safety as well.

“Be very careful walking anywhere. I mean, I find myself now looking four or five times before I cross the street,” Lora said. “But also, drivers, slow down. Watch out for people that are walking because there are a lot of people walking in that area.”

Hanley filled in as the interim dean a month after Joe was killed. Hanley said he met Joe about 30 years ago and worked closely with him the last year before Joe’s death.

The news from that night had a significant impact on both the business school and the larger Marquette community.

“It was like a gut punch in the stomach,” Hanley said. “I remember exactly where I was. I got a call from a Marquette colleague at six in the morning. I was about to board a flight when I got the news. I almost cried halfway to Florida because I was going there to meet with some donors for our college when I got this news just outside the terminal gate.”

Students that didn’t know Joe personally felt the impact as well, including Aidan Hatton, senior in the College of Business Administration.

“It was such a small period of time between him getting this major position as dean and him losing his life. I think that was the hardest part of it from a student community perspective,” Hatton said.

One of the projects Joe took on was the new business building that is currently in construction on 16th St. and West Wisconsin Ave. Hanley has continued to live Joe’s vision of the building.

“You can see Joe’s fingerprints all over it. Some of the ideas that he spoke about, the vision he had – we’re bringing this to life,” Hanley said.

While Marquette continues to live through Joe’s vision, Lora feels him with her a lot of the time – including in unexpected moments.

“He had a particular song as a ringtone for me when I would call him, and it’s not really a popular song that you hear a lot,” Lora said. “I was at the hardware store the other day, and over the loudspeaker in there, that song came on. It was not a top 40 song, and it’s just one of those where my eyes fill with tears. I’m sure the cashier was like ‘what’s going on?’ And I’m just like, ‘okay, hi honey. I know you’re here.’”

If just another five minutes were given to Lora to speak with her late husband, she wouldn’t fail to let him know how much he means to her. 

“I’m so grateful that I had him for the 40 years that I had him. I’m so grateful that he came into my life. And, ‘thank you for loving me and for giving me a beautiful life.’”

This story was written by Vanessa Rivera. She can be reached at vanessa.rivera@marquette.edu