LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. -

The bus ride home was a little different Thursday for students at Lower Macungie Middle School in Lehigh County. A bus driver who died over the weekend was honored with a special tribute.

For eight years, Laverne Hunsicker, of Greenwich Township, Berks County, sat behind the wheel of an East Penn School District bus. Recently, number 46 was his ride.

"He was retired. He chose to spend his time driving our children around and keeping them safe," explained Suzanne Vincent, Lower Macungie Middle School's principal.

But the 72-year-old man's journey stopped Sunday. Laverne, who went by Vern, drowned after falling into the Lehigh River while fishing. Vern was an avid outdoors man and had a passion for fishing.

"I think there's always surprise, sadness," Vincent shared.

She said administrators told the students who rode Vern's bus about what happened.

"Just invited them to sort of share fun memories of Mr. Hunsicker and have a happy thought and a little memorial tribute amongst themselves Monday," she said.

Vern's co-workers at bus company First Student also wanted to remember him.  After classes dismissed Thursday, and buses were loaded, they honored Vern with a 'last stop.'  One by one, the other buses turned on their lights. Then, in silence, let number 46 drive by. It was a somber procession.

"They really want to say goodbye in a way he loved," added Vincent.  "Things he loved to do, which was driving our kids."