April 10th, 2012
02:54 PM ET

Student stops bus after driver slumps in seat

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.

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Filed under: Education • Washington state
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Uncle Willy

    Great resourcefulness from the student. One word of caution though, turning the ignition off on a motor vehicle instead of just shifting into neutral could have locked the steering and disabled the power assisted brakes. He did well, but could have done better if he had been trained. But, not bad for a kid having to improvise on the spur of the moment. Well done.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • bags5150

      Great point about the ignition and all...but why in the world would a kid be trained on how to stop a bus? He did FANTASTIC...not well.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Salad Spinner

      He'll probably get a ticket for driving without a license. That would be the State mentality.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Wonderwoman

    May God Bless all Kids involved!!!

    April 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sielingfan

    "Surprise Lake Middle School" sounds like a horrid place to have a runaway schoolbus.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dave

    @sortakinda. You buying drinks to celebrate?

    April 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike R

    Johnny Wood is the man.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Debby

    Great story and hope the bus driver recovers.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bodofinglok

    Wow...Bus story aside, that kid is going to do well. Very well spoken.

    April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. williaan

    That punk coward will shoot himself in the head now.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dobro

    The last time I was in a bus crash near Malaga, Spain, the bus driver had a heart attack and the bus went down an almost vertical slope next to a bridge. Nobody was able to stop the bus. 8 people died, I got very lucky with only a sprained ankle. I don't care to be in that kind of situation again. I'm so glad that kid was able to help in this instance!!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. paisung

    May be emergency training about handling school bus is necessity for
    students. I heard a similar case about a kid handling a car for his mother
    in a heart attack situation.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. toocy

    @ Homer: or you could reinforce what your child's school, like most schools, is teaching your child. My experience is that most children who are well-spoken have parents who are well-spoken, encourage good grammar and correct bad grammar. Learning doesn't stop once a child leaves school for the day.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bubba

    @ Uncle Willy...are you an idiot? "If he were trained" He's a 7th grader for God's sake.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. KING GOD

    THEY NEED TO STOP HIRING FAT PEOPLE

    April 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. S-coop

    Great job kid. Hope the bus driver gets better. And I agree with Bubba. How would a kid be trained?!?!?!?

    April 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. S-coop

    I agree with Bubba. How would a kid be trained?!?!?!?

    April 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
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