KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A school crossing guard is being hailed a hero after stepping in to help save lives before getting hit and killed in Kansas City, Kansas on Tuesday morning.
A crosswalk in front of a KCK Catholic school turned into a crime scene Tuesday morning, the crash happening just before 8 a.m. near the intersection of 54th Street and Leavenworth Road.
Police say a driver ran right into the path of crossing guard Bob Nill while he was out doing his job protecting kids.
Nill worked the crosswalk in front of Christ the King Parish School for five years. Loved ones now hope there are a couple things we can all learn from his death.
"He was a very dedicated at what he did. Cared about the kids. Made sure he stood out there with that sign and made sure they were safe to cross," Elizabeth Germany, who lives near the school, said.
Nill, 88, served in the Coast Guard and later retired from a career in banking. His family members told FOX4 he felt young at heart and didn't want to spend his golden years sitting around.
"This was something I think he felt like he could help children and help himself feel good about what he was doing," Randy Nill, Bob's nephew, said.
Elizabeth Germany's grandchildren attend a public school nearby. Because of past knee surgeries, she could only walk them halfway. She said "Mr. Bob," as the kids called him, would go the extra mile to keep students safe.
"My prayers and thoughts go to the family. It's sad. It really is," Germany said.
Tuesday Morning, officials with Christ the King said a speeding car hit Nill as he worked the crosswalk in front of the school. Witnesses told police he pushed two kids back. His family said his actions are no surprise, saying extraordinary kindness and generosity were a part of his DNA.
"What my Uncle Bob did for just getting little kids across the street seemed probably trivial to some people, but for him, it was a really important job, and now, we really know how important it was. He maybe saved some lives," Randy Nill said.
Families hope what happened is a wake-up call to appreciate community servants who protect kids and for drivers to be extra careful in school zones.
"People need to slow down. Even the buses they need to slow down," Germany said.
The driver who hit the crossing guard did stay on scene and was taken to the hospital for treatment and to talk with investigators. There is no word yet if that person will face any charges.
Bob Nill was employed by the Wyandotte County Unified Government, which released this statement:
"The Unified Government is deeply saddened to report a public servant employed by the city was struck and killed by a vehicle near 54th & Leavenworth Road while on-duty as a crossing guard this morning. Eyewitness reports indicate the employee was struck while pushing children out of the way of the approaching vehicle.
"I offer my deepest sympathies to the family of the crossing guard, and I offer our gratitude on behalf of our residents for his selfless sacrifice in protecting our children," Mayor David Alvey said. "The Unified Government staff extends their heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the employee's family, friends, and those affected by this tragedy."
Christ the King School shared the following statement on its Facebook page:
"Our hearts are heavy at the passing of Mr. Nill. Please continue to keep him and his family in your prayers as well as the students, parents, and teachers who witnessed today's accident. Also know that Mr. Nill is a hero. He stopped two of our students from crossing the road as the car approached."