Family, neighbors mourning victim of deadly Fall River fire

FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Family and friends are mourning a Fall River school bus driver who died in a fire at his apartment on Sunday.

Carl DaPonte, a beloved grandfather and Army veteran, was inside his Montaup Street home when flames overtook the second floor around 1:30 a.m.

“He just was there for everybody,” said Deponte’s stepson, Craig Braga. “He was even an actual school bus driver for the town of Fall River, so he did everything for the kids. He took care of who he loved the most is what he did.”

Building owner Paul Lavoie told 7News he heard the fire alarm from his apartment just below.

Lavoie said he ran upstairs and broke down the door but couldn’t get to DaPonte through the smoke and flames.

Firefighters gave DaPonte CPR but were unable to save him, according to Lavoie.

“This morning was just hyper with all everybody — the fire inspectors and everyone else, just one after another,” Lavoie said. “But when I got alone this afternoon, I just broke down.”

Those in the neighborhood are now offering each other comfort after losing someone they say impacted all of their lives.

“He took my granddaughter to school. He drove school buses,” Jesse Tavarez, a neighbor, said. “It was beautiful. The guy was beautiful.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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