HOUSTON – Harry Caligone was identified as the charter bus driver who died Tuesday when the bus went off an Alabama highway and plunged into a ravine.
The bus, which was owned and operated by First Class Tours in Houston, was one of two that were chartered by the Channelview Independent School District to carry students to and from a trip to Disney World.
Forty students and six adults were injured when the bus fell 50 feet into the ravine.
The driver’s son, Harry Caligone Jr., described his father as a positive man with a great sense of humor.
“He loved being able to take people various places through his driving,” Caligone Jr. said in a statement. “I’m almost certain that in his last moments he was most concerned about the kids.”
Caligone was married and the father of five, according to his son.
Alisa Louis, Caligone's wife of 11 years, told KPRC2 she last spoke to her husband Monday. She described him as her best friend.
"He was life. If you were sad, he would make you happy. He would tell you something every day to bring your day up," Louis said.
Why the bus lost control and crashed into a ravine remains under investigation. Louis told KPRC2, that during her phone conversation with Caligone on Monday, he told her the bus was giving him problems and had to be taken to a mechanic.
"He said they had to put the bus in the shop because all TVs were cutting off," she said
Louis said she spoke to Caligone again overnight, hours before the crash.
"I'm going to miss him dearly," Louis said.
The elder Caligone posted on his Facebook page that he drove for Houston Baptist University.
Clay Porter, a spokesman for the university, said that, while Caligone was not an employee of the university, he would occasionally work on a per-diem basis when the school needed an extra driver.
“It’s a tragic situation, and our hearts go out to all the families and students involved,” Porter said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”