A Washington school district is hailing a middle-school student as a hero after he guided a school bus to a stop when the driver slumped in his seat.
The bus was taking a number of students to Surprise Lake Middle School in Milton, Washington, when the driver became incapacitated Monday morning, falling back into his seat and letting go of the wheel, surveillance video released by the school district shows.
The bus kept going, guided by no one for seconds, the video shows. Then seventh-grader Jeremy Wuitschick, two seats to the back and right of the driver, jumped into action.
“I was just sitting there when the bus driver, he looked funny. His eyes were bulging and he was sitting back, and his hands were kind of flapping around uselessly,” Jeremy told CNN affiliate KOMO. “… I knew something was wrong.”
Jeremy ran to the front and turned the wheel to the right, guiding the bus to the side of the road. Believing he couldn’t reach the brake, he brought the bus to an eventual halt by taking the keys out of the ignition, he told KOMO. Other students used cell phones to call 911.
The bus had just pulled away from a stop and was going about 10 mph when the driver lost control, Fife School District Deputy Superintendent Jeff Short said. The bus hit a curb before Jeremy guided it to a stop outside an elementary school that is adjacent to Surprise Lake Middle School, CNN affiliate KIRO reported.
Jeremy and fellow student Johnny Wood gave the driver chest compressions after the bus stopped, according to the video and Short.
John McCrossin, the school district’s director of student programs, was driving behind the bus and saw it veer, and he ran aboard and administered CPR until medics arrived, KOMO reported.
The driver, a substitute, was taken to a hospital "for some type of heart condition," Short told CNN on Tuesday. The district is withholding the driver's name at the request of his wife, who wants time to contact his relatives, Short said.
Short said he didn't have information to release about the driver's condition, except to say that he still was in the hospital Tuesday.
The children aboard the bus "did a fantastic job of reacting to a difficult situation," Short said.
"Turning the wheel to the curb and turning the bus off was perfect for that situation and for the safety of the kids," Short said. “We're proud of the kids and the way they acted in the situation."
Jeremy said he was acting on instinct, but also was inspired by a book in which a character was told to bring a bus under control by turning off the ignition, he told KOMO.
Catherine Wuitschick, Jeremy’s mother, told KOMO that she is “incredibly proud of Jeremy.”
“I always have been, but especially so today,” she said.