Nov. 20, 2003 Funeral services are set for Monday, Nov. 24, for a St. John VITRAN driver who suffered a fatal heart attack while sitting behind the wheel of her bus.
Paula Smith, 48, was pronounced dead Monday, Nov. 17, at the Myrah Keating Smith Clinic minutes after the bus became involved in a collision near the Chateau de Bordeaux Restaurant along Route 10, Centerline Road. According to Police Sgt. Thomas Hannah, the driver's teenage daughter, who was on board, took the wheel as she saw her mother suddenly take ill.
"The police investigation disclosed the driver of the bus … Paula Smith, who had a history of heart problems, suffered a cardio-pulmonary arrest while operating the bus," police said. "Her minor daughter, who is approximately 15 years of age, in an attempt to save her mother's life took control of the bus and collided with another vehicle."
The child was unhurt and was turned over to relatives after investigators discovered the circumstances behind the accident. The driver of the other vehicle was unhurt.
Smith, a mother of eight, was one of the original team of St. John drivers who helped initiate public transportation in 1998. Since then, officials at the Department of Public Works say VITRAN St. John enjoys the highest amount of ridership among St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.
"Besides her children, Paula's job was her life," said supervisor Donna Roberts. "It's so sorry that Paula's favorite bus was Unit 41, and that's the bus Paula Smith died on."
The veteran driver was known on St. John for her volunteer work with the St. John Fourth of July Festival Committee and was disaster volunteer with the American Red Cross of St. Thomas-St. John.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.