A 64-year-old West Hartford school dean and teacher has died after her car collided with a school bus at Boulevard and Mountain Road in West Hartford this morning, according to West Hartford police.
Police had to extricate the driver, 64-year-old Patricia Rosoff, of West Hartford, who was pronounced dead at UConn Medical Center. She was on her way to work when the crash happened.
Police said the crash happened at a traffic light around 7:10 a.m. Tuesday when Rosoff's Saab was traveling east on Boulevard collided with a bus carrying 18 Conard High School students that was traveling south on Mountain Road.
Rosoff was a creative arts and modern languages teacher at Kingswood Oxford School, where she was also the academic dean of humanities. School officials said she worked at the school for 39 years.
"She was a giant in our community, and her loss is incalculable,” said Head of School Dennis Bisgaard, in a statement.
Bisgaard called Rosoff's death a "devastating blow."
“Pat was an artist in every sense of the word – an artist of color, words, people, and emotions,” said Natalie Demers, KO’s Assistant Head of School for Academic Life, in a statement. “And, she was the ultimate student – she never wanted to stop learning new things! She truly epitomized lifelong learning. She is who anyone in education would aspire to be: She saw the good, and the potential, in everyone. We will miss her terribly.”
Rosoff was a California native who earned a bachelor's degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and a master’s degree from the University of Hartford Art School.
"The world is a bit dimmer tonight without the luminescent Pat Rosoff – teacher, artist, mentor, wife, mother, grandmother, colleague, friend – who died this morning in a car accident. KO will miss her forever," the school posted on its Facebook page.
Grief counselors were brought in to help students cope.
"The whole campus shut down – everyone silent, no one saying anything," said Kingswood Oxford student Joanie Burzymowska. "A couple people were bawling their eyes out."
School leaders said Rosoff was a mentor and inspiration to many.
"The rest of the year's not going to be the same," Burzymowska said.
Police said the bus driver and students on board were injured. Firefighters evaluated the students before another bus brought them to Conard High School.
A parent at the scene said officials wanted to take statements from the students and that afterward, parents would be able to take their children home.
Conard High School Principal Julio Duarte sent a letter home to those parents, explaining that students involved in the crash met with police and school officials about their physical and emotional well-being.
"Although it was an unfortunate incident, I am very thankful that all of our students are safe and injury free," Duarte said.
Administrators, school counselors and social workers were also available to speak with students.
Investigators are working to figure out the cause of the crash.