Driver Passes Out, Slams into Guardrail at 70 MPH. Coach Grabs Wheel Before It's Too Late


Traveling by bus is a regular part of life for many basketball coaches. Justin Smith, an assistant coach for the University of Dubuque women’s basketball team, is no different in his familiarity with riding on the bus.

Many trips in his former position as a high-school basketball coach took place on yellow school buses.

Those long and frequent bus rides allowed for plenty of time to think.

A thought that Smith never dreamed would become a reality was what would happen if the bus driver fell asleep. The answer came to him on Dec. 31, 2017.

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It turned out that he, in fact, was the solution to the dangerous problem that presented itself as the team was headed home after a tournament.

The coaches and players were riding on the bus on Interstate 24 in Kentucky when the driver suddenly had a medical emergency.

The bus was traveling at 70 m.p.h. when the driver passed out. As the bus hit a guard rail, Smith’s head hit the window.

He looked to the driver and realized the man was unconscious. Smith ran to the steering wheel before other coaches even realized what was happening.

He managed to press on the brake and safely stop the bus. The location of the bus on the highway was still dangerous, though.

Smith told The Associated Press, “We didn’t feel safe where it was at and we had the girls move up to the front of the bus.

I sprinted about 100 yards behind the bus to get traffic away from the bus and make sure there were no other accidents.”

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The driver regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital. Nobody else was harmed in the ordeal.

This assistant coach is being called a hero, but he has brushed aside that title.

He had wondered in the past how a scenario like the one he just experienced would play out and has since been able to explain how instinctual his reaction was.

Smith said, “It’s fight or flight mechanism and 99 percent of the people would have done the exact same thing.”

Even so, we agree with the Trigg County Sheriff’s Department’s assessment in calling him “heroic.”

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Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College.
Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College. Carolyn's writing has been featured in both online and print media, including Just Between Us magazine. She resides in Phoenix with her husband and children.
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