Warren County Public Schools honor bus driver who died from COVID-19

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Students, faculty and staff of the Warren County Public Schools honored a county school bus driver after he lost his life to COVID-19.

Around two dozen buses and their drivers lined the parking lot of South Warren High School paying respects to their fallen colleague.

“Last call for Monty Austin bus number 2020 we will always remember thank you for your service,” buzzed through the Warren County Public School’s bus system at 3:00P.M. Thursday afternoon.

James Monroe Austin, lovingly referred to as “Monty”, died on Monday. Thursday, his colleagues set up a beautiful tribute in his honor.

Monty had been a beloved member of the Warren County Public School’s family for 11-years.

As the casket passed by the school, hundreds of middle and high school students lined the road with signs to show their love for the 73-year-old.

As a sign of respect, the bus Monty drove followed the funeral procession.

A friend and manager to Monty, Forest Walters, said he was a good man and a great bus driver.

“We’ve had several drivers and Warren East managers that have had COVID and you just hold your breath. You just hold your breath because you know it’s a dangerous virus and it’s, you know, it’s taking peoples lives, so you hold your breath, and you hope for the best, and you pray for them, and you pray for the families that they hold it all together. And when you do lose somebody it just takes it out of you,” said Walters.

According to his obituary, Monty loved driving a school bus and loved his bus riders. If anyone asked what he did he would say “I drive a school bus and I LOVE IT!”

Some of the students who rode his bus say he always had on his Tennessee Vols hat.

“That’s one thing I specifically remember is I always got on the bus and he would be wearing his hat. And he was just a really, like, quiet person, but he was really nice to me,” said Hannah Brooks, a student who used to ride Monty’s bus.

The students said watching his bus pass by was impactful.

“Like, we were just on that bus with him a couple weeks ago and, like, now he’s not even here anymore,” said Lauren Decshant, a student who used to ride Monty’s bus.

“It’s kind of weird seeing it because you haven’t been on in a while and it was sad,” said Madi Bell, a student who used to ride Monty’s bus.

Monty was buried in Franklin by his family and loved ones.