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Driver dies after parking bus

9/5/2012

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Hays USD 489 lost a longtime bus driver Tuesday.

Ted Nowak died after collapsing on the front steps of the transportation department after performing one of his favorite duties -- driving student-athletes to their destination.

Nowak, who would have turned 77 on Sept. 28, worked for the district for 31 years before retiring in May.

He still planned to drive part-time "on an as-needed basis," said Gavon Smith, director of transportation for Hays USD 489.

Smith said Nowak had just returned from dropping off the Hays High School cross country runners at Frontier Park for their workout.

"Ted was joking around with us and was in good humor, watched us practice," said Jerold Harris, HHS cross country coach. "Then he took us back to the school, dropped us off and said let me know when you need a driver, and I'll come drive you."

Smith said he has watched the videotape of the facility and saw Nowak had locked the back gate and was walking up the steps of the building at approximately 5:30 p.m.

"He didn't seem to be in any distress at all as he was walking up," Smith said. "He just collapsed."

Smith said two passersby stopped to help almost immediately after Nowak collapsed and began performing CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. He was taken to Hays Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead of an apparent heart attack.

Smith said the transportation department plans to recognize Nowak in some way.

"We don't know exactly what yet," Smith said this morning. "We will visit with the family and take into consideration what their feelings are."

Funeral services are pending with Cline's Mortuary of Hays.