by: Andrew Doud Updated:
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Valarie Gist of Mooresville found it hard to sleep Wednesday night after hearing about the death of Frank Booth.
"I tossed and turned all night. I just couldn't believe it because he was just a very dedicated person," Gist said.
Booth was killed Wednesday afternoon after he was struck while directing traffic during dismissal outside Mt. Mourne School on Mecklenburg Highway.
The school held a small memorial service for Booth on Thursday. Outside, a memorial was set up along the road near where Booth was killed. Eyewitness News saw some parents coming by Thursday morning to leave flowers by a cross.
Gist said she didn't know Booth personally, but passed by him every afternoon outside the school.
"I saw him every day and he seemed as though he enjoyed his job and the children. He was doing it for the safety of the children,” Gist said.
Every afternoon for almost three years, Booth made sure students got safely across a busy road.
The Highway Patrol said 23-year-old Sarah McMinn was driving north outside the school when she hit and killed Booth. Troopers said she was not speeding and drugs and alcohol were not factors.
They haven’t said what caused the crash.
On Thursday, parents left flowers next to a small memorial outside the school near the road. Inside the gym this morning, children lit flashlights during a service the school put together to help them cope with the loss.
"Frank was a big man with a big smile and a big heart. And he made an impression everywhere he went,” said Principal Boen Nutting.
While teachers and students mourned his loss, OSHA investigators took pictures and notes during their investigation of the accident scene.
The school’s principal called Wednesday’s accident a tragedy for everyone involved, but said she's confident their dismissal procedures are safe.
The only thing that changed Thursday afternoon was a sheriff's deputy directed traffic instead of Booth.
"There’s a lot of good people out there but I think it's going to be very hard to replace Frank. He did an awesome job,” Gist said.
"He was the kind of man that when I would work the car riser line in the afternoon, I would have parents roll down the window and say do you realize what a gem you have in your safety officer," Nutting said.