Family and friends mourn ‘immeasurable’ loss of Hackney dad-of-two to coronavirus

Haci Ali Dogus.

Family and friends are mourning the loss of Hackney dad Haci Ali Dogus following his death from Covid-19 at the age of 49.

Tributes are being paid by neighbours to Addison Lee driver Dogus, who died on 25 March, for his “smile, charm,  quick wit, and his determination to give all he had to his family”.

Dogus, who had no underlying health condition, died after entering critical care at the Homerton Hospital.

His son Mert, 17, said: “My dad always told me, ‘You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow – you’ve got to expect everything’.

“Obviously, I’m old enough to know that people are going to die, and I knew he would die eventually, but didn’t think it would happen this soon. It was a shock.

“Whether you know they’re going to go or not, it’s still disheartening and very painful to watch them go, especially with how the virus is – you can’t go and see them or be with them, because then you risk the lives of your family and your own.”

The community is now rallying to help Dogus’ wife Cigdem, Mert and 12-year-old Ozan in the wake of his death, with Debbie Mitchener, 48, starting a crowdfunder to help the family “put food on the table and pay the bills”.

Cigdem is forced to self-isolate over the coming months due to her vulnerability to the virus.

Mitchener, who has known the family for 12 years, said: “Ali was too young, and the boys still need him. What I’m finding frustrating is the lack of support for the family. Because no-one can go into Cigdem’s flat to help her, she’s struggling to do this on her own, with English not her first language.

“I’ve just spoken to her this morning and she’s trying to fill out all these different forms, and she’s just getting confused by everything, all while she’s bereaved.

“It wouldn’t be this hard normally because people would be able to be in the flat with her, helping her, and probably sitting at the computer doing a lot of this for her with the information that is there, but it’s all having to be done at a distance.

“I feel the government has thought about people’s businesses and their jobs, but they haven’t thought about people’s lives and their families. That is something that should be considered, and there should be an emergency fund for people who are in this position.”

Mitchener went on to point out that, due to the change in her friend’s circumstances, she has now entered the Univeral Credit system and its associated initial five-week wait for payments.

She added: “The fact that she’s got this £8,000 bill hanging over her for the funeral is another thing. I feel very strongly that whatever I could do to help alleviate some of this worry and raising some money towards whatever Cigdem needs is a very small part of that.”

Mert says he is now distracting his younger brother with video games, as well as talking and cooking with his mother, while doing his best to get back into revising for his A-levels again.

Dogus’ son also spoke of the difficulty of now being allowed to visit his father in hospital or see him at his funeral, adding: “These things are negative, but I know what my dad would have wanted. He would have wanted all of us to get through this and become stronger people because of it.

“I know he would want me to revise, get good grades and a good job. That’s the kind of person he was – he was a really good person who just wanted the best for his family.

“As his son, I’m going to try and make that happen the best I can.”

You can contribute to the fundraiser for the Dogus family here.

Hackney Council support hub for those affected by the coronavirus can be found here.