MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- A man was arrested on a charge of homicide by vehicle after investigators said he caused the crash that killed a Mobile County bus driver Thursday morning.
Alabama State Troopers said 22-year-old Brandon Barner of Panama City, Florida was driving a 2017 Nissan Altima when he ran into a school bus driven by 32-year-old Kimberleigh Faith Welch of Wilmer. The crash happened on the Interstate 65 off-ramp to Highway 45 in Prichard.
Welch was taken to University Hospital where she died. No students were on the bus.
Barner was not injured. A third vehicle was also involved in the crash, troopers said the woman driving that car was not hurt.
According to a witness, Barner and the woman driving the third vehicle cut the bus off and the driver lost control. The bus went off the road and flipped over.
Alabama State Troopers have not released details about what led to the crash.
The Mobile County Public School System released the following statement about the crash and Kimberleigh Welch:
Mobile County Public Schools is mourning the loss of a dedicated bus driver today. Mrs. Kimberleigh Welch died in a bus accident Thursday morning after dropping her students off at Pathway Alternative School.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our Mobile County Public Schools’ family members, Mrs. Kimberleigh Welch. Mrs. Welch was a very well-liked, caring and dedicated bus driver and volunteer for our district,” said MCPSS Superintendent Chresal Threadgill.
“We extend our sincere sympathy to the Welch family. During times such as this, it is difficult to find comfort. However, we hope that each individual life that Mrs. Welch has touched will always remember the fond memories and times shared with her,” Threadgill said. “We extend our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by our loss.”
Mrs. Welch worked as a bus driver for Mobile County Public Schools since February 2018. She was a hard-working employee who was admired by her coworkers.
“The kids and the staff at her school loved her and thought the world of her,” said Pat Mitchell, Director of Transportation for Mobile County Public Schools. “This is a very somber day for us as one of our heroes is gone. We will forever remember her.”
Mobile County Board of School Commissioners President Doug Harwell said he and the rest of the board are thinking about Mrs. Welch’s family and all of the MCPSS employees and students who knew her during this difficult time.
“Our board does pray for the safety of all of our bus drivers and all of our employees and all of our students,” Harwell said. “Our bus drivers do a great job. They work hard to get our children safely to school and back home every day.”
Pathway Principal Patricia Westbrook said Welch was “the most giving, caring bus driver I have ever met. She treated every child special. We are going to miss her.”
Welch met every student with a smile and always talked about how much she loved her family, Westbrook said. “She was an all-around good person who never complained.”
Counselors are available to meet with any student or MCPSS employee who needs to talk about this.