Bus driver's family: She loved being a bus driver

Friends raising money to cover funeral expenses
Posted at 5:49 PM, Sep 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-12 21:59:27-04

THORNTON, Colo. - The husband of a Legacy High School bus driver killed in a tragic crash Sunday says she would have done anything to protect her students.

Kari Chopper had been a bus driver for the Adams County 12 School District since 2012.

"To me, my world ended," said Josh Chopper, who found out his wife had died through text messages from the students she drove. "They told me to look at the news. I knew that was my wife because I knew she was going to DIA to pick up Legacy High School's football  team."

He said he doesn't know yet what caused the crash, but that Kari had no known medical issues.

The school district released this statement on her last physical: "Per federal regulation bus drivers are required to undergo a DOT physical every two years. Chopper passed her last DOT physical on May 10, 2016."

Her husband said she was a very careful driver, but she was not very familiar with Denver International Airport.

"It is definitely a confusing system at DIA, for sure," said Josh Chopper, who wondered if that played a role in the crash. "I wasn't there. I don't want to speculate, but I would say it had something to do with it because my wife hadn't been in accidents. She hadn't gotten tickets. She was a good driver."

Kari Chopper is a mother of four teenagers and grandmother of one, and often drove her own children on the bus, her husband said.

A professional cake decorator on the side, she also loved decorating her bus for special occasions.

"She would spend our last penny to get lollipops for the kids on the bus so they would have something on the way home," said Josh Chopper.

What he knows for sure, he said, is that Kari would do anything to protect the children she drove -- even if it cost her her own life.

"She loved her job. She loved every one of those kids as if they were her own," he said. "I know that if she was here, she would say she's sorry."

Friends of the family have started a GoFundMePage to help pay for funeral expenses. 

The superintendent of the district, Chris Gdowski, issued a letter to staff and families Monday thanking the community for their thoughts and prayers.


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