CASA GRANDE, Ariz. -- As the Arizona Department of Public Safety investigates what caused the deadly crash on I-10 in Casa Grande involving a wrong way driver and a charter bus, 3TV has learned much more about the man killed.
Friends and neighbors of Francis Wilkens Gibson, 78, say he was a retired teacher who taught in the community for more than 30 years.
“He is really a loving man,” said Penny Warwick who lives next door. “He will be greatly missed by all of our neighbors.”
DPS says Gibson entered the freeway in the wrong direction, Tuesday afternoon and crashed head-on into a TBC Conexion bus with 16 passengers on board. Gibson died at the scene, and nine passengers were injured.
Four people remain hospitalized, but none of the injuries appeared life threatening according to authorities.
“I think he was lost,” said Warwick of her neighbor. “I think he needed a lot of medical care.”
Warwick said Gibson struggled ever since his wife died.
“It’s a bad week,” said Patti Adams, a longtime neighbor and friend of the family. “Today is two years to the day we buried his wife, so he was very distraught,” said Adams.
Adams believes Gibson was on his way to the cemetery at the time of the crash. She says it was a place he visited two or three times a day.
“I was concerned about him going out to the cemetery so often, and I know that he would be driving around,” she told 3TV.
Neighbors believe Gibson was likely disoriented and confused when he drove onto the wrong entrance.
“I told him, personally, Francis you don’t need to be driving anymore, especially at night,” said Warwick.
Neighbors say they wonder whether anything could have been done to prevent the deadly, head-on crash which left several injured.
Neighbors say Gibson leaves behind two adult children. A sign on his door reads, “In Mourning, Do Not Disturb.”
Neighbors say they will remember him as caring, kind and well respected in his community.
“I love Francis. We love him,” said Warwick.
3TV also learned a misdemeanor disorderly conduct arrest from last year may have been a misunderstanding, according to friends of Gibson.
Investigators say he was a witness to a crash in Casa Grande and was found by police at the scene. They say they handcuffed him after he failed to comply with orders to leave.
The Pinal County Attorney’s Office said he was placed in a diversion program, since he had no prior criminal record.