What would you do if your bus driver suddenly fainted? Slumped over, unable to man the controls, with the bus still creeping forward — would you panic, or act sensibly?
It’s an uncomfortable situation for even an adult to be in, but last week it was five kids who were in this predicament in Atkinson, New Hampshire, on Dec. 6. Their school bus driver suddenly collapsed, and the bus was still moving.
Two boys, Nolan Berry and Thomas MacKeen, leapt into action according to the Atkinson Police Department. Nolan was in 3rd grade, and he went for the emergency brakes, hoping to stop the bus from moving forward.
Thomas, in 4th grade, helped keep the other students on the bus calm. Thankfully, they weren’t on a busy road or headed downhill, and the bus came to a stop.
“Nolan started activating switches on the dashboard because he said the bus was still rolling, and at some point the bus came to a stop, they couldn’t get the door open,” Police Chief Timothy Crowley told WMUR.
A dad waiting for his son David, who was on the bus, saw the bus pause, move forward, and pause again. “It came to a stop. It stopped there and crept forward and then came to a complete stop,” Jesse Silva said.
He figured it was the driver managing some shenanigans or something, but then one of the boys started pounding on the window and crying for help.
“So that’s when I ran over and saw she had collapsed,” Silva said. He got the back emergency door open and made his way inside.
Silva’s son, David, shyly told reporters that the kids on the bus were “crying, scared, nervous.” They were concerned for their driver and understandably worried about their predicament.
“She was unable to provide information as to exactly what happened,” Crowley later explained, “so, some type of medical issue.” The driver was taken to the hospital and First Student, the bus company, stated that she wouldn’t be driving again until she had medical clearance.
“Thank God it happened here, where I was,” Silva said. “There was someone here to help out quickly. If it happened anywhere else it could have gone a lot worse.”
“There’s lot of worse places this could’ve happened,” he continued. “That’s what I told all the kids. They were excited, they were upset, but it happened in a good place.”
As for the two young men who showed their true colors that afternoon, the Chief of Police believes they deserve commendation.
“I think they deserve a lot of credit for jumping in and trying to do something,” he said, also mentioning that the principal drove up to collect the stranded students and take them back to the school where they could be picked up by their parents.
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