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Why all Metro buses will stop in the middle of their routes Friday

(KC Metro)

Metro buses are on a limited holiday schedule from Thanksgiving through the weekend, as expected.

While buses will be on a limited weekday schedule on Friday, it is a very important day for Metro drivers. It’s a day they remember when one of their own was killed in the line of duty.

I was checking Metro’s holiday schedules recently when I noticed the day after Thanksgiving is listed as “Mark McLaughlin Day.” The name didn’t ring a bell for me, but it’s a very important name for Metro, and especially its drivers.

“He gave his life serving his community,” said Metro’s Deputy General Manager Terry White.

Mark McLaughlin was the Metro driver who was shot and killed while heading south on Aurora with a bus full of passengers. It was Nov. 27, 1998, the day after Thanksgiving. The shooter, who was sitting near the front of the bus, opened fire on the 44-year-old McLaughlin. The bus careened across traffic and went over the side of the north end of the Aurora Bridge, hitting an apartment building before landing about 50 feet down.

McLaughlin was killed. The shooter took his own life, and a passenger also died. More than 30 people were injured.

“It had a heavy weight added to most of the folks who work here,” White said. “We didn’t want to forget this. We wanted to do what we can to improve safety and security for all, but at the same time we wanted to memorialize what Mark had done for his community.”

About eight years ago, the union representing Metro drivers voted to name the day after Thanksgiving in McLaughlin’s honor.

“I think it’s important for us to keep his memory alive for those who come after him,” White said. “We’re a family, just like any other family. Time moves on, but you don’t want to forget.”

At 3:20 p.m. on Friday, the call will go out from Metro dispatch for all buses to stop and observe a moment of silence.

“It’s just a quiet moment,” White said. “We ask those who knew him and all of our operators to take this moment. We will pull over peacefully and quickly, have that moment, and then restore service.”

White asks passengers for patience as their buses take this short pause in their runs as employees honor a fellow driver who was murdered while driving his passengers into Seattle 20 years ago.

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