A friend to passengers everywhere: Legacy of KC bus driver who died suddenly won’t stop rolling along

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Drivers with Kansas City's public transportation system are mourning the passing of one of their own, and the buses he drove will play a prominent role in how he's remembered.

You don't spent 13 years behind the wheel of a city bus without making an impact on the people you serve.

Staff members at Ride KC, part of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, got the bad news on Monday that 55-year-old Derrick Sims, a grandfather who's been driving a bus for over a decade, had suddenly died over the weekend.

Derrick Sims

Sims' friends and co-workers told FOX 4's Sean McDowell they're not sure what caused his sudden death, but the father of three grown children did have a recent bout with the flu.

One of Ride KC's buses, similar to the one Sims drove, sits on the ATA's parking lot in east Kansas City. As of Tuesday afternoon, the bus is decked out in photos and keepsakes dedicated to the popular friend.

Sims was a board driver, meaning he drove routes all over Kansas City instead of a dedicated route, and thereby, had become a friend to passengers everywhere.

"He was a good guy, real funny," Brenda Perkins, another Ride KC board driver, said Tuesday.

Perkins and other Ride KC employees who knew Sims, said they're planning to ride the two city buses that KCATA plans to fill with people attending Sims' upcoming funeral, which so far, hasn't been scheduled.

"He would love it that we all came together and showed love for him," Perkins said.

In the meantime, those who are left behind are being offered grief counseling. Clinical workers were present Tuesday in a town hall meeting KCATA staged at the company's bus barn on 18th Street.

"It's very difficult to lose a co-worker," said Bobby Edwards, Ride KC's transportation manager.

Edwards manages the bus company's drove of drivers. He said Sims was popular with riders and his peers because he made others smile, which, in turn, made the workplace better.

"This is a brotherhood here," Edwards said. "This is a family here. Very similar to police departments, when they lose a brother, and they come together, we do the same thing here at KCATA. We care for our employees."

Ride KC administrators said when Sims' final arrangements are made, the bus adorned with photos and keepsakes will be there too, parked outside, intended for the Sims family to enjoy.

Edwards said its the agency's way of showing how much they loved this driver.

KCATA leaders said they won't rule out using a third bus if it's needed to take employees to Sims' funeral. The bus company will hold a private memorial service at its headquarters on Friday, allowing the staff to pay their respects.