Local, statewide, and national communities honor fallen Pasco bus driver

PASCO, Wash. — Multiple communities are coming together to honor the fallen Pasco School District (PSD) bus driver who died while on the job after a stabbing attack in late September.

Richard Lenhart, 72, was starting his afternoon route when a man approached the bus. After asking Lenhart a question, the man suddenly armed himself with a knife and began assaulting him in front of 35 elementary school students.

READ: Pasco police detail deadly attack on school bus driver; no motive known

Lenhart passed away from his injuries that afternoon, launching a statewide effort to honor who many called “friendly, kind, and an overall amazing man.”

“Richard started here in the 2015-16 school year,” said Tamara Pearson, a bus driver with the PSD. “I’ve had several parents reach out to me telling me what a good guy he was.”

Pearson said Lenhart liked “reading to students on the bus.”

“Kids loved him. He was just a genuinely great guy all the way around,” Pearson said.

Mary Howard, a PSD bus driver for 10 years, said he was “always polite with a positive attitude.” When she heard the news, at first it was unbelievable.

“Not one of our drivers,” Howard remembered thinking. “No way. That couldn’t happen.”

READ: “My heart is broken”: WA Superintendent reacts to Pasco school bus attack

The number four was Lenhart’s bus number. Now, it adorns signs hanging on buses from school districts not only in the Tri-Cities but across the country.

Officials said “the outpouring from the community has been absolutely touching” as school districts in Snoqualmie Valley, Gig Harbor, and Snohomish have all reached out, and even some in Kansas.

“We really appreciate everyone’s support. Hearing them say and do the things they’re doing, it’s like, ‘you guys understand,'” Howard said. “Even though it didn’t happen to you, you understand the pain that many of us have felt.”

READ: Tri-City school districts honor Pasco school bus driver Richard Lenhart

Howard added that other people caring outside of the school district “is very uplifting.”

“It makes it easier to do our job,” Howard said.

Now Lenhart’s school bus parking spot is a memorial filled with flowers and loving messages to serve as a reminder of the legacy he leaves behind.

Officials are also putting together an honorary procession on Saturday, Oct. 9. Vehicles and buses participating will have the number four highlighted on their windows.

Although the route isn’t fully complete yet, the procession will begin at 10 a.m. and will drive by Longfellow Elementary in Pasco.

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