COLUMBUS CIRCLE — William Pena was not a typical bus driver. He greeted his passengers, joked around with them, and even gave one money in a time of need, his brother told a packed Upper West Side church during his funeral.
Pena was so committed to the people on his bus that he once gave $300 to a man who was down on his luck. A few weeks later the man came back, looking much better, and paid him back, said Alex Pena.
“Who does that these days?” his brother asked the congregation as he held back tears. “I never did. It shows you what kind of man he was. You will always be in our hearts, Willie.”
“William thought about the people who got on his bus,” said Father Thomas Faiola during the homily. “He cared about them. His work wasn’t just a job, it was a service to the community.”
Over a hundred people packed the pews of the Upper West Side church Thursday morning. In attendance were police officers, transit workers, friends and family members. The presidents of New York City Transit and the Transit Worker’s Union paid their respects to Pena’s family.
“The TWU will not forget you,” president John Samuelsen promised them.
Pena's relatives described him as a hard working family man who's main drive in life was to provide for his daughter Gabriela.
“His world revolved around his daughter,” said Denise, his sister-in-law. “Will’s primary goal was to be that special father to his only child.”
As a tribute to Pena, his family has set up a website, WilliamPena.org, to raise money for his widow, Nancy, and his college-bound daughter.
“Daddy, if you’re listening I want you to hear me, this is for you,” Gabriela wrote on the site. “I miss you but [you’re] done and [you’re] not coming back, writing this is the hardest thing and never thought I would have to. We were inseparable always together and always being clowns with each other.”
The site, which has received $5,130 from 121 supporters, also keeps track of court dates for Domonic Whilby the man accused of driving the stolen truck that police say caused the crash.
Whilby was partying with his uncle, model Tyson Beckford, into the morning hours of Feb. 12 when he allegedly stole a delivery truck from a garage at Dream Downtown Hotel, prosecutors said.
He sideswiped two vehicles and ran at least two red lights before slamming into Pena’s bus at 14th Street and Seventh Avenue., according to prosecutors.
Whilby has been held without bail on charges including vehicular homicide, assault and manslaughter.