Local bus drivers say the loss of Mobile bus driver, Kim Welch, hits home

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — We are hearing from the family of Kim Welch, the Mobile County school bus driver killed in a wreck Thursday morning. Her husband David released a statement Friday afternoon through the school district. It reads in part, “she loved her children. She loved her community. She always had a smile on her face. She was never afraid to help anybody with anything. She was a wonderful mother to her three children and her step-daughter, and she was a great wife.”

Mobile County School Assistant Director of Transportation tells News 5’s Amber Grigley, this really hits home for all school bus drivers.

An unimaginable feeling for many school bus drivers across the Port City and other parts of the Gulf. As coworkers remember Kim Welch, bus drivers say it’s a reminder of the dangers on the road.

“We had gotten a call over our dispatch radio and we knew something was wrong just by the tone of the voice of the bus driver. Everybody dropped what they were doing and rushed over,” said Sonja Mcleod, Assistant Director of Transportation for Mobile County School System.

A frantic call Mcleod said is a first for the county after witnessing one of her drivers in an unthinkable situation.

“Our drivers constantly have on their mind is safety on the road. It’s getting a little more dangerous because people are not paying attention,” said Mcleod.

Mcleod said drivers who worked directly with Welch, as well as other county drivers, are in shock.

“You want to help, but you don’t know what to do. Everybody’s just kind of…we’re just going through the motions,” said Mcleod.

As a memorial continues to flood with flowers and balloons for Welch outside of the Mobile County School System Transportation Department, Mcleod said the outpouring support from all over just shows how great of a person Welch was.

“Everybody had a positive interaction with her. She was kind of quiet, but she was always willing to help people. Whatever needed to be done to help out, that type of personality,” said Mcleod.

Welch drove the bus route for autistic students at Pathway Alternative School. Mcleod said Welch had just dropped them off prior to the crash. Meaning if the crash happened any sooner roughly 6 to 10 students would have been on the bus.

The man charged with homicide by vehicle in the death of Welch has been released from jail on bond. 22-year-old Brandon Barner posted the $30,000 bond Friday afternoon. Prosecutors said he improperly changed lanes on I-65 causing the fatal accident. Barner’s attorney believes the homicide by vehicle charge is unwarranted.

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