BENTON COUNTY, Miss. (localmemphis.com) – School bus driver Chester Cole died when he had a heart attack Tuesday during his morning route. His family said he was dedicated to his job and would never have put the children in danger.
One of Cole’s granddaughters, Tisha Walls, was a passenger on the bus and witnessed her grandfather die. The crash seriously injured eight of the students riding the bus, but Tisha was lucky to have no injuries.
Tisha said she loved her grandfather and she will remember him for the good days of riding his bus.
“It was scary,” Tisha said. “But I liked when he would drive me around.”
Another granddaughter, Sarah Walls, said he was generous and kind to everyone he met. He did work for Meals on Wheels and would help mow neighbors’ lawns as a kind gesture.
“He was a wonderful man, like a wonderful, wonderful man,” Sarah Walls said. “Right now I’m getting emotional, but he was a wonderful man.”
Sarah said he was well-respected by the students that rode on his bus, and he loved them all dearly. He took his job seriously and was known to do so.
Benton County coroner, Larry Hobson, said witnesses described the moments leading up to Cole’s death were classic symptoms of a heart attack.
“A couple of the kids in the bus told us that he clutched his chest, kind of stiffened just a little bit and slumped over the steering wheel,” Hobson said.
Hobson said there is not a known history of heart problems for Cole, and the crash was a complete accident.
The Benton County Schools gave a statement about how everyone is heartbroken over the loss of Cole and those injured in the crash.
“Benton County Schools is mourning the loss of one of its own beloved bus drivers, Mr. Cole.” the school district wrote. “Superintendent Bostick and various school board members are currently visiting each student involved. The status of the students is stable. Please continue with your prayers as we recover from this tragedy.”