DALLAS – A DART bus driver who won accolades for helping a suicidal man last fall was killed Friday night when her bus slammed into a pillar supporting a bridge on the ramp from Interstate 45 to eastbound Interstate 30.

Driver Zulita Walker apparently ran off the road around 11:30 p.m. and struck the concrete pillar supporting Malcolm X Boulevard above, just before 2nd Avenue.

The impact appeared to split the front of the bus vertically. Heavy machinery was brought in to extract Walker's body.

There were no passengers on board at the time of the crash, according to DART spokesperson Morgan Lyons.

That ramp was closed so investigators could examine the crash scene.

"When I found out, my heart just dropped," said Nathan Spain, a former DART bus driver and friend of Walker's.

Last October, Walker was driving her bus when she spotted a man on the High Five interchange at North Central Expressway and LBJ Freeway who appeared to be getting ready to leap from an overpass.

"I guess it's just a mother instinct," she told WFAA at the time. "Something wasn't right."

Walker invited the man to sit with her on the bus. She spoke with him until police arrived. 

"It was a long day that day, but I just want people to care about people," she told us. "Because, at that time, he didn't feel like anybody cared."

Walker leaves a legacy of caring.

"She was a very bubbly person, real sweet, family person," Spain said. "She'd give you the shirt off your back if you'd need it."

"She was always smiles," he continued. "All the time you see her, all you see is teeth, because she smiles so much. If she was having a bad day, you never could tell it."