Beloved school bus driver mourned after fatal crash with police vehicle
Health & Safety OPP police school bus
By Calvi Leon, London Free Press
A school bus driver killed along with a police officer in a two-vehicle crash near Woodstock was a 71-year-old family man who spent the past decade-plus of his retirement driving children to school.
An obituary for David James Stewart, 71, remembers him as a great-grandfather who long owned a business before retiring and taking up driving a school bus in and around Woodstock.
“The bus kids adored Dave,” a fellow driver wrote in an online tribute Monday night. “I’ve heard such great stories about things he did for them. . . . I will miss him so much.”
Per his obituary, Stewart was the “best friend and beloved husband” to his wife for 47 years, a loving father of four children and a proud grandfather and great-grandfather. A motorcycle and small-engine mechanic by trade, he owned a small engine shop for many years before retiring, the obituary states.
“After retiring, David spent 12 years driving school bus, a profession he loved. He loved NASCAR, the NFL and fishing, but family was everything,” the obituary reads. “He was greatly loved, and he will be greatly missed.”
One parent said his four-year-old son loved having Stewart as his bus driver.
“Our son talked about him almost every day and was always excited to go to the bus to see Dave,” Nicholas Irvine wrote in an online exchange with The Free Press.
Irvine said while his son’s speech isn’t the best, Stewart would always strike up a conversation, even if he didn’t understand the youngster.
“He was so patient with the kids. He was an incredible man.”
Police say it was about 7 a.m. Monday when a school bus and an unmarked police vehicle collided at the rural intersection of Oxford Road 33 and Highway 59, northwest of Woodstock. Both drivers died, police said, and there were no occupants in either vehicle.
Police identified the officer who died as Det.-Const. Steven Tourangeau, a 35-year-old with Huron-Perth OPP’s street crime unit. He was on duty at the time of the collision, the Ontario Provincial Police Association said.
The details of the crash are not yet clear. OPP officials said London police are investigating the collision.
Officials with Oxford County told The Free Press the rural intersection has been the site of several serious crashes in the past. Stop signs control the traffic running east-west on Oxford Road 33 and the posted speed limit is 80 kilometres/hour. The county has already added flashing lights to the stop signs and plans to introduce other measures, including a four-way stop and reduced speed limits, in late June.
Tributes for Tourangeau — the sixth Ontario police officer to die in the line of duty since last year — came pouring in after his death.
“He was a well-respected Ontario Provincial Police officer and it will be a great loss to his family and colleagues,” said Scott Mills, spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police Association.
A service for Stewart will be held at the Brock and Visser Funeral Home in Woodstock on Monday, June 6 from 6-8 p.m. and Tuesday, June 7 from 10-11 a.m., followed by a burial at the Woodstock Anglican Cemetery.
His family asked that donations be made to Ronald McDonald House or the Canadian Diabetes Association.