A long-time Golden Empire Transit bus driver, killed in a car crash, is being remembered by his riders. Ivy Whitmire died Sunday when he ran into a tree along Highway 99. Since then, his loyal riders have been remembering him as not only their bus driver, but as a friend and a fixture of their morning routine.
To know GET Bus Route 45, was to know 66-year-old Ivy Whitmire. He spent the last 20 of those years driving the route, sitting behind the wheel at Golden Empire Transit.
GET Bus rider, Paula O'Neal, remembers him as, "One of the best, one of the best."
Riders say he was great at getting their day going on a positive note, with a smile.
GET Bus rider, Ken Anderson, says he was, "Always smiling, always nice, always helping somebody."
But, after decades of getting riders safely to where they needed to be, Ivy was killed in a crash Sunday. CHP officers say he was driving his Corvette, going too fast, and lost control, crashing into a tree along Highway 99 near White Lane. He was the only person in the car.
"He really will be missed. Everyone at GET is just very sad," said Gina Hayden, Public Information Officer at Golden Empire Transit. "The crash was very much a shock for us because he is such a good driver, um, that we were very surprised," Hayden continued.
Its still hard for Ivy's loyal riders to believe his face won't be the one they see when the bus doors open. But, with mass transit comes mass memories, not about the destination, but the journey with one of their favorite drivers.
"He would always say, 'Hi, honey. How are you doing," said O'Neal. "And, I'm an identical twin. My twin sister's name is Barbara and he would say how's my twins doing. And, it was wonderful and to hear that he passed away is very sad."
"We talked to each other all of the time," said GET Bus rider Joshua Teague. "He was a really sweet person. He's good hearted and I really miss him."
The CHP says drugs and alcohol do not appear to have played a part in the crash. The Whitmire family says they are still making funeral arrangements.