The city bus driver killed last week while driving along his route was honored with a big turnout at his funeral Thursday. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
The funeral for William Pena at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle brought out hundreds of mourners to mark the life of a veteran bus driver killed last Wednesday after his M14 was struck by a truck that authorities say had been stolen.
The show of support for Pena, his wife and his teenage daughter overwhelmed those who attended the bilingual funeral mass.
"It's been very impressive and very surprising that we've had such an outpouring of the public coming out to honor William," said Jimmie Colon, one of Pena's co-workers.
"To see so many people in the church, so many people out in the streets, from the MTA and the police department and all these city workers here involved, it's just very, very profound," said Eddie Marrero, who sang at Pena's funeral.
A bus driver hadn't been killed on the job since 2008, when Edwin Thomas was stabbed to death while driving a B46 in Brooklyn.
Transit workers said that Pena's death reminds the public of the dangers they face behind the wheel.
"I wish people were aware of it every time they get into a bus. We have everyone's lives in their hands," said Frank Austin of Transport Workers Union Local 100. "It'd be nice to get appreciated, not just this way, but every day of the week."
"When you leave home in the morning, you don't expect this to happen. You expect to come home, enjoy your family," said Howard Davis of Transport Workers Union Local 100. "To lose a life doing your job, that's not the way to go."
The man accused of stealing the truck, Dominic Whilby, is facing vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving charges.
"DWI? A man loses his life? A daughter loses her father? It makes no sense," Davis said.
John Samuelsen, the president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, said that Pena's widow and 17-year-old daughter, Gabriella, will be taken care of by his union.
"I'm very proud that the union is stepping forward and has the capacity to step forward to help the Pena family, both Gabriella the daughter and Nancy the wife, in terms of college education," Samuelsen said. "It's a big, big concern of this union."
Pena was laid to rest in Hillside, N.J., where he lived with his family.