REST IN PEACE: Beloved bus driver dies in accident on first day of school

It should have been a happy first day of school for those who work for and attend Hillsborough County Schools in Tampa, Florida, but an early morning accident left the community in shock.

“There are days in our lives that we will always remember. Some for the joy we experienced and others for the sadness,”Jim Beekman, Hillsborough County Public Schools General Manager of Transportation, said in a statement. “Today is one that I and our Transportation Family of Hillsborough County Public Schools will remember for the sadness that it brought, the shocking realization of losing such a vibrant member of our family.”

On Monday, Cynthia Gibson, a bus driver for the county for 30 years, was involved in an accident on her way to work. According to reports, Cynthia, who was known as Ms. Cherry, crashed into a tractor trailer.

She reportedly told her family Monday morning that she planned to retire after the 2019 – 2020 school year. Monday morning would have been her last first day of school.

In addition to three decades of service to Hillsborough County Schools, Cynthia was a union rep for bus drivers and was an active member of her church. She also was there to lend an ear or a helping hand to anyone in need.

“She was a strong advocate for drivers and attendants understanding the importance they play every day in the lives of the children and parents in this community,” Jim Beekman said. “When drivers needed a mentor, they would turn to her for guidance. When schools had some challenging students, she would step forward and work with those at-risk kids and made a difference.”

“Today marked my 36th school opening and to this day, I have never met a driver so unique and so full of passion for those around her,” he said.

“Countless folks have come forward today making their own pledge to be a better person, to know not to take any moment in life for granted and to express thanks for the impact that Ms. Cherry made in their life. She was a believer, she had the faith and her friends and family know she heard those beautiful words today, well done, my good and faithful servant.”

What a sad story. I hope her family and community are able to find peace.

I will pray for everyone during this difficult time as they grieve the loss of their friend, family member, and colleague. 

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