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Former Hart district facilities director killed in head-on collision

Posted: January 15, 2013 4:34 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2013 4:34 p.m.

Paul Rivas, who resigned a year ago as director of facilities for the William S. Hart Union High School District, died in a head-on crash in Lancaster on Monday.

Rivas, 51, died when his 2001 Dodge Ram pickup collided with a big rig on Highway 138 west of 140th Street West. The crash occurred about 10:30 a.m. Monday, according to a report prepared by California Highway Patrol Officer Pablo Torres.

Rivas was eastbound on Highway 138 when “for unknown reasons” he allowed his pickup truck to drift onto the shoulder, Torres wrote in his report.

He then over-corrected and his pickup entered the westbound lane directly into the path of the big rig.

Clarence Bonam, 44, identified as a the driver of the big rig, suffered a minor leg injury, according to Torres.

Rivas resigned from the Hart district position in January 2012 after his bosses accused him of abusing his position through actions considered a conflict of interest.

The district claimed at the time that Rivas had a business relationship with New Leaf Inspector Services, a fictitious business name for 3K Building Services Inc., which has done inspections for the district’s school modernization projects.

In his role as director of facilities-modernization, Rivas recommended the district pay more than $1 million to 3K Building Services for inspections, the district alleged.

Rivas resigned two weeks after the district made their concerns public during a Hart district board meeting.

Rob Gapper, then assistant superintendent of human resources and student services, recommended Rivas’ dismissal.

Rivas, who maintained throughout the controversy that he did nothing wrong, became director of facilities in 2006 with the task of managing and overseeing modernization projects within the Hart district.

District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said: "We are saddened by the news of Paul's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with Paul's family and friends."

Monday’s crash caused the big rig’s fuel tanks to rupture, releasing about 180 gallons of diesel fuel onto the north dirt shoulder and forcing the road’s closure for more than six hours, Torres wrote.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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