Driver who died near Casa Grande was driving to cemetery
CASA GRANDE, AZ (CBS5) -
One day after a fatal crash near Casa Grande, CBS 5 News is learning more about the man who died.
Francis Gibson, 78, was driving the wrong way on I-10 Tuesday afternoon, when his pickup struck a tour bus head-on, injuring nine of the 16 passengers on board. Francis Gibson's white Dodge burst into flames and he died at the scene.
CBS 5 spoke with Francis Gibson's daughter, Katrina, Wednesday at the family home. She lives in Alaska but was visiting for Thanksgiving. She was too upset to speak on camera, but a friend who lived across the street shared a little about her neighbor.
"Everyone in this community loved him," said Patti Adams, a neighbor of 29 years.
Adams says before he retired "Fran" Gibson was a sixth-grade teacher for more than three decades at Evergreen Elementary in Casa Grande.
"We loved him beyond words," said a tearful Adams.
Adams said Francis Gibson's wife, Charlotte Gibson, was her best friend. Charlotte Gibson was also a school teacher who died two years ago. Since then, Francis Gibson had been visiting her grave four to five times a day, and was reportedly on his way there when the crash happened.
"To him, being able to drive to the cemetery was absolutely his life," said Adams.
When the longtime neighbor saw the horrific images of the crash on the news Tuesday afternoon, she knew.
"I just had a feeling that it was him," said Adams.
A DPS spokesman says officers were on their way to a call about a driver of a white pickup on the I-10 freeway going eastbound in the westbound lanes. One minute later the pickup crashed into the bus, followed by a semi. It's too early in the investigation to tell why Francis Gibson was going the wrong way, and officers haven't ruled anything out.
"A lot of times it's confusion. Older drivers confused about on ramps and off ramps, it looks the same to them," said Bart Graves of DPS.
Adams says several neighbors had been concerned about Francis Gibson's driving in recent weeks and got together to talk about it. They decided to tell his son who lives in Casa Grande in hopes he could get help.
"It was like he was thinking somewhere else and not really paying a lot of attention to where he was going," said Adams.
Adams says she's so sorry for the way Francis Gibson died, but says she takes some comfort in where he is now.
"His one wish in the last two years was to be with his wife. He wanted to be with Charlotte and his wish has been granted," said Adams.
Investigators may never know why Francis Gibson was going the wrong way.
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