MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- The Mobile County Public School System released a statement Thursday afternoon after one of its bus drivers was killed in a crash.
Kimberleigh Welch had dropped off students at Pathway Alternative School minutes before the wreck. She was the only one on board when a witness said two cars cut her off and sent the bus off the road on the Interstate 65 off-ramp to Highway 45 in Prichard.
The bus flipped over, killing Welch. Brandon Barner was charged with homicide by vehicle after the crash.
In the statement, MCPSS Superintendent Chresal Threadgill wrote, “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.”
“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.”
The school system said Welch was a hard-worker who was admired by her co-workers. She had been with the system since February 2018.
“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 wrote, “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.”
The school system said counselors are available to meet with any student or MCPSS employee who needs to talk about this tragedy.