Last updated at 5:22 a.m.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County Public School District is mourning the loss of one of their own.
District officials tell 8 On Your Side that Cynthia Gibson, a school bus driver for the district, died in a car crash Monday morning.
School district representative Tanya Arja says Gibson, who many called Ms. Cherry, was an employee with the district for 30 years. Arja described Gibson as “well know and well-loved.”
Jim Beekman, the general manager of transportation for Hillsborough County Public Schools, says she was on her way to work when the crash happened. It was supposed to be her last first day of school, as Beekman said Gibson had told her family members she wanted to retire at the end of the year.
“I have never met a driver so unique and so full of passion for those around her. I truly lost a great friend today,” Beekman wrote. “Words will never capture how much she will be missed by those who knew her.”
This is Beekman’s full statement released to WFLA:
There are days in our lives that we will always remember. Some for the joy we experienced and others for the sadness. 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. Cynthia Gibson, known to many as Ms. Cherry, was tragically taken from us in an automobile accident on her way to work this morning. It was the first day of school and to her family she had shared it would be her last first day, she wanted to retire at the end of the year.
Ms. Cherry began her career over 30 years ago with Hillsborough County Transportation and has touched thousands of lives in this community through her driving, her service to her church and most important to her, her beautiful family. 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. 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. Her most rewarding role however, was grandmother to her beautiful grandkids.
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. I truly lost a great friend today. Today, as in the days to come, our transportation family will do all we can to help her family through this time of sorrow. 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.
Words will never capture how much she will be missed by those who knew her.”
Grief counselors will be available at the district’s transportation department on Tuesday.