Community members from Sealy, Texas, are shocked and saddened after a school bus driver suddenly collapsed and died behind the wheel on Sept. 6.
Gerald Gardner, 73, was driving kids home from school when he suddenly lost consciousness.
Students from the Sealy Independent School District sprang into action to bring the bus to a stop before it ended up in a ditch.
Gardner had been a driver with the district for five years until he retired in 2015. He came back from retirement in 2018, prepared to work this school year.
Alice Gardner, who was married to her husband for 47 years, described Gardner as “her rock.”
“A total of 11 years driving the school bus and he loved every kid on the school bus,” Alice Gardner said.
According to KHOU-TV, high school and junior high school students managed to take control of the bus and bring it safely to a stop. The students had been trained in emergency bus evacuation, and were able to use that training to exit the bus safely.
“Once they got the bus stopped they killed the engine,” said Sealy ISD Assistant Principal Doug Young.
“One of the other high school boys in the back evacuated students off the back of the bus, just like they’ve been trained to do.”
Approximately 25 students were on the bus at the time.
Meanwhile, three witnesses rushed to Gardner’s aid, removed him from the bus and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
“I don’t know the lady who gave my husband CPR, I wish I did,” said Alice Gardner. “I’m very very grateful even though he didn’t make it.”
The Sealy Independent School District described Gardner as an upstanding man who truly enjoyed his job.
“We are extremely grateful to the years of service Mr. Gardner gave to Sealy ISD and to our students,” SISD said in a statement. “Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to the Gardner family at this time.”
The district also praised the students who kept the dangerous situation from escalating.
“Our students are to be commended for their quick thinking and remaining calm during the evacuation,” the statement said.
In a world that is often filled with hurry and selfishness, Alice Gardner said she is thankful for the Sealy community, where strangers would take the time to stop and help a fellow human in need.
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