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Only one student received minor injuries after this school bus slid into a ditch Dec. 16. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Nevis safety class helped in bus crash

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BY Sarah smith

A 12-year-old Nevis girl is being heralded as a hero after she saved a fellow student on a school bus that crashed earlier this month.

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The girl, who is not being named for privacy reasons, apparently sensed that her school bus would collide with the ditch as it slid off Highway 34 on Dec. 16 east of Nevis.

She grabbed a fellow student and sheltered him with her arms as the bus bumped down into the ditch. She was the only student injured when she hit her head and neck on the seat in front of her when the bus came to rest in the ditch.

She was taken by ambulance as a precaution to be looked over at St. Joseph’s Area Health Services, but released shortly after arrival.

“It was a godsend,” said bus superintendent Dan Stacey, who rushed to the scene that day.

Every year Stacey holds a “bus patrol” safety class for about two dozen hand-picked students. EMT Bucky Johnson teaches the class.

Student patrols are selected by bus drivers for their leadership qualities and ability to remain calm in a crisis. The 12-year-old was one of those students.

The district buses between 750-800 students along nine routes, Stacey said. With about 25 trained, there’s usually one or more bus patrols riding each route.

On Friday the 13th, three days before the mishap, Nevis bus patrol students were put through a class in basic safety techniques, First Aid, CPR, bus evacuation, radio procedures, use of fire extinguishers and behavior management. The girl was one of the students trained.

Stacey said the program has been operational two or three years. This class occurred at a fortuitous time.

On the morning of the crash, there was zero visibility and slippery roads. If the storm hadn’t hit the region so quickly, several schools might have delayed opening that day.

School buses weren’t the only victims. Law enforcement officers dashed from crash to crash as motorists got out on the roads and realized the conditions were treacherous and unavoidable. The school bus was just one of numerous vehicles to end up off the road.

The girl acted heroically.

“She is a trooper,” Stacey said. He went to talk to her in the ambulance and found that she still exuded calm.

“She is great. In my eyes and in the driver’s eyes, yes, she is very much” a hero, Stacey said.

The students transferred to another bus and were taken to school.

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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