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Chesterfield bus driver shaken, heartbroken after father dies in fatal accident

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. -- The Chesterfield County School bus driver involved in a deadly accident Tuesday morning said off-camera that he's shaken and heartbroken.

He said never in his 13 years of driving a bus has he been involved in something so traumatic. He also said it'll take some time before he can drive again.

A witness who was at the scene just moments afterwards allowed CBS 6 to air exclusive video taken with his cell phone; it shows the medical transport helicopter touch down in the street near the accident, and then quickly take off.

"The individual had died before the chopper got there," said eyewitness Brian Gresham.

med transport

Police said 26-year-old Noel Santos, a father of two, died just a few hundred feet from his front door. The bus driver told me that from what he could see, Santos never looked up and simply pulled out. The driver said the crash was unavoidable.

"It's sad being they just had a newborn baby" says Cami Tesimale, who lives downstairs from the Santos family, on Creekglen Lane.

Tesimale saw the aftermath of the accident and she knew.

"When I saw the vehicle, I immediately recognized the vehicle," said Tesimale.

santos

"It's the third accident I've heard in the past four or five months," said Gresham, whose apartment overlooks Old Hundred Road.

He said a loud bang woke him upTuesday morning and he thought at first that it was a trash truck making rounds.

"I heard ambulances and fire trucks, then looked out and saw the Toyota wedged underneath the bus, unfortunately," he said.

The bus was heading west towards the Hallsley neighborhood to pick up gifted students who go to Greenfield Elementary. At the time of the crash, four students were on board. All were okay.

Greenfield Elementary School fourth grader “Anna” said "teachers didn’t want to tell us anything because they didn’t want to scare us.”

“One of them went to the clinic because their ankle hurt and the other went to art class and then left,” Anna said of her classmates who were on the bus.

“They were fine, just quiet and the teacher was hugging them and stuff,” Anna added, saying her classmates could see the school counselor if they wish.

bus ax 2

The bus driver said after the collision, the car was pinned underneath the bumper of the bus. He also said he got out to try and help Santos, along with a nurse who was nearby.

Sixth grader Tiana Richardson rode bus 561 for two years. She wasn't on the bus Tuesday but said she believes the driver did everything he could to avoid the tragedy.

"I just know when I rode last year, kids would stand up and walk between aisles and he'd tell us it was dangerous and would say sit down in a nice way," Tiana said.

Santos and his family have lived in the apartment complex for a couple of years and he was described Tuesday as a "very friendly guy… he always spoke, smiled," residents said.

Off camera, family members said Santos was living In New York when he met his future wife online. He moved to Virginia and they married in 2009, and started a family soon after.

"To be honest just because family so important to me, it's just all I can think about when I see him is just, how much you could tell he loved his family and his kids and his wife and that he was such a hard worker to take care of his family," said Tesimale.

Gresham said the county had just raised the speed limit to 45 on that stretch of Old Hundred Road. The bus driver said the camera and GPS on board will help investigators reconstruct the accident scene.