Mechanic killed repairing bus on freeway

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SAN DIEGO — A 32-year-old mechanic from Ramona was killed when a car plowed into the broken-down school bus he was fixing alongside a rain-drenched freeway Thursday.

A 2005 Nissan Altima veered off the Interstate 805 in North Park and struck the San Diego Unified School District bus from behind shortly before 7 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.  The mechanic was trapped under the hood for half an hour until firefighters pried it open.

The crash left the motorist, a 41-year-old woman, seriously hurt and the repairman gravely injured and wedged in the engine compartment of the bus, CHP public-affairs Officer Art Athans said.


Medics took both to a hospital, where the mechanic was later pronounced dead. His name was withheld pending notification of his family.

The mechanic, a father of three, was described as a man always willing to help a friend in trouble.

“It really messes me up, I didn’t know it was him,” co-worker Phil Otway said.  “I’m surprised that he passed away, it’s really shaken me up.”

“For goodness sake, people need to slow down when the roads are slick,” said Otway.  “It’s not worth it because now she is going to have to live with this for the rest of her life. With Christmas just right around the corner, this is not a way to bring in the holiday.”


  • Scott Mayer

    It is RAIN, not the apocalypse.
    1) Slow Down.
    2)Turn on your lights
    3) Look ahead and don't keep staring at the license plate in front of you.
    4)Keep a SAFE following distance.
    5)PUT DOWN THE PHONE! You need both hands and way more attention than you are giving the situation.

  • anonymous

    People really need to pay attention,now a wife, and his 3 wonderful kids a mother , father, sister,are in morning waiting for him to call and come home, I hope that they can get thru this hard time

  • Maria

    How safe it is to get off the bus and try to repair it under those conditions? We know it is raining there is little visibility, and cars easily slide of and lose control. I feel for his family, may they have the strength needed to endure his departure

    • Dave

      He wasnt just on the bus, see the truck in the picture? Also you cant just always tow a bus down the road, sometimes it just a easy fix. He was doing his job as a roadside mechanic. I am a mechanic myself and Im sad to hear someone die from the stupidity of another driver. Just take your time and dont be in a rush. Its not worth it.

  • jamie ayau

    We are all like family here at san Diego Unified. John will be greatly missed by all. Our love and prayers to his family. People please slow down and look far ahead of your following distance Doing so will not bring back John but at least you can save another life. Thank you Jamie

  • Jay

    Rain, slick roads, whatever… I'm sorry but I don't see any reason why this idiot drivier slammed into this bus. We certainly didn't have any Black Ice on the 805 that morning. First off, IT'S A SCHOOL BUS!! It's huge! And if there's poor visibility? IT BRIGHT FREAKIN YELLOW! It's just so upsetting that such a tragedy can happen like this when it most likely could have been so easily prevented. So many San Diegans need to re-evaluate how they drive in the rain. You CANNOT fly down the freeway at 70mph. I'm really curious as to the excuse she's going to have for losing control.. wishing the best for the man's family and especially his children.

  • Bridget Reynolds

    Little John was a friend to my husband, he knew him before we met.
    I wish people would slow down, I live in the mountains no one seems to know how to drive. This woman’s senseless actions killed a family man. John can’t be brought back, so think about speeding in the rain and remember this moment and know you may take an innocent life.
    To his family I send many hugs and warm embraces.

  • bob

    School buses shouldnt be on the freeway.. no seat belts for the kids,, no car seats no air bags,.,just plain stupid.. RIP to the nice man who tried to help..

    • Scott Mayer

      Bob sorry but you don' t know what you are talking about. Stop and ask any SDUSD bus driver to explain how safe a school bus is and why.

      • bob

        Ive been a Medic for 13 years,, seen enough bus wrecks to pretty much know what i see.. thanks though.. I realize there are people who are smarter even though they dont have experience behind why is a school bus safe on the freeway?

    • Dan Butler

      Bob, I've driven a school bus for 20 yrs and i believe its absolutely the safest way to get kids to and from school..Your suggestion that school bus's should not be on the freeway is really impossible..In a city as big as San Diego getting kids to and from school would take hours. And do you really want to see big loud yellow school bus's constantly driving up and down quite neighborhood streets? .And even in this terrible accident if kids HAD been on board chances are NO one would have been injured because of the integrity of the bus…

  • anonymous

    I want to say I will never forgive the women that took a very wonderful dad and amazing husband away from me. I hope buy my loss someone will make changes, so that no one else ever has to fell the pain my children and I are going through. For the simple stupidity of people.

    • Karen

      I am so sorry for your loss. I know nothing a stranger says will help you heal. But take comfort in knowing that he is watching over you and your children. I also lost my Father when I was 11, during the holidays. I hope you all find the strength to move forward and keep him in your memories while doing so. Sending prayers from Boston, MA.

    • HdepotRapunzel

      I am so very sorry for your loss. Your husband was out in the rain trying to help get a school bus back on the road. Not many people would take a job like that. I'll bet it was not the first time he did something that was good for the school district, but not good for him. He was a "hero" kind of guy. Hope the school district's bus repair policy is reevaluated and they determine that if a bus is broken down on a freeway, it should ALWAYS be towed to a safe location before a repair is attempted. A bus is a giant target, and drivers who are overly tired, inebriated or just plain stupid may "over-focus" on it and inadvertently drive right into it… Anonymous, may you and your precious daughters live through this time of terrible grief, and may your hollow chest and heavy hearts be soothed by each beautiful sunrise and sunset.

  • Debi

    I hope that the administration will reevaluate their policy of repairing busses on the roadside. These busses should be towed to a safe location. There was nothing to be gained by having John repair that buss on rain slicked roads.

    John was a wonderful husband, dedicated father, and giving friend. He was the lifelong love of his wife and his daughters, I am sure, lived to see that broad smile every day. The community has lost a giving soul. His death has left a hole in our hearts.

    My prayers go out to Jen and the girls in hope that they are able to carry on knowing that John will be forever in their hearts and in ours. – Debi

  • crystal

    This is a really good friend of my dad’s. I feel so bad for the wife and these children. There gonna be with no father growing up and the worst around the holidays I pray for this family

  • Jamess

    People don’t slow down or even turn on light in bad weather! They had a requirement to turn lights on in rain/fog where I lived in Fl. There’s no common sense out there. All this “progress” & personal freedom has created a lot of morons. I can’t even figure out why the cops don’t make Harley bike owners install mufflers !

  • Rhonda

    It was so sad to hear that a fellow coworker was killed while on the job my prayers go out to his family and kids. We never no when our time is left here in earth . I didn’t know him but from what I hear he was willingly to go above and beyond to serve as a mechanic . May god bless you and the children and may God fill your hearts to make it through this rough time .

  • joe

    I am so sorry for your loss. I will pray for you and your children to be blessed with love and support and for all to try to get through the loss of a dear father, friend, brother, uncle, husband. May god bestow his graces on you and your family always.

  • jamie flores

    The McClurg/Flores's and Madias family send there prayers out to john's family and the girls. John took care of my dad as if my dad was his father, he truley would come and help out everyone in our family…. He never allowed my dad to have to do the "hard work" by himself…. He is a true angel to all who knew him personally or crossed path because he lended his hand out to help! Once again we extend our true prayers to his family and children who he spoke of with praise. Rest in peace

  • gasolkontroll

    Oh, how terrible death that school car repairing mechanic faced!! I feel very sorry for his soul. That crazy car driver needed punishment for this crime. Thanks for letting know about such information info.

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