Bus driver dies after crash into wall


by azfamily.com

Video report by Jill Galus

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 7:20 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 23 at 7:05 PM

Map: 23rd Avenue and Dove Valley

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PHOENIX -- A school bus driver died after the bus he was driving crashed through a wall and into the backyard of a home in the North Valley, according to the Deer Valley Unified School District and Phoenix Police Dept.

It happened at about 7 a.m. at Dove Valley Road and 23rd Avenue, which is southeast of the Interstate 17 and the Carefree Highway.

The driver was 56-year-old Lawrence Joseph Plante.

Aerial video from the scene showed the bus well off the roadway, more than halfway through the brick wall of a home's backyard. Although it plowed through the wall, it did not hit the house, which is part of the Desert Crown subdivision.

Police said it appears the driver was making a u-turn when something went wrong.

"Something happened where that bus instead of coming out of the u-turn it crossed over the median...and continued southbound and went through the block wall," said Sgt. Tommy Thompson with the Phoenix Police Dept.

A spokeswoman for the Deer Valley Unified School District said the driver had a medical emergency when he lost control of the vehicle.

"It's very unfortunate the district does sympathize with the family our thoughts and prayers are with them at this point," said Heidi Vega with the Deer Valley Unified School District.

There was a 14-year-old student and an aide on the bus. The student and the aide were not injured.

The driver reportedly was in critical condition when he was taken to a hospital where he died.

It was a shocking sight for people who live in the neighborhood.

"We came out here and both me and my son went, 'oh my god oh my god what happened,'" said Crystal Bazarnic.

"How bizarre, I mean, a bus in your backyard, not really my backyard but my neighbor's backyard, but you never know, it's unbelievable," said Darek Zelek.

The Associated Press contributed to this report