An early-morning bus ride turned into a terrifying event for 17 Cleveland students when their bus driver suddenly had a fatal heart attack at the wheel.
But a sharp-eyed driver of another school bus saved the day by intercepting the drifting bus, said Mickey Brown, the executive director of transportation for the 70,000-student school district.
The 6th, 7th, and 8th graders were headed for the Collinwood CompuTech Middle School on Oct. 23 when their driver, Teresa L. Law, fell unconscious.
Sharron Young, a fellow bus driver, was navigating her regular route when she saw Ms. Law's bus roll past a normal pickup point and continue weaving slowly down the road.
Sensing that something was wrong, Ms. Young put her bus in park, turned on the emergency flashers, and instructed her young passengers to stay put. Hearing the shouts of witnesses at the pickup stop, who indicated that the driver appeared to be unconscious, she ran after the runaway bus, which was moving down the street at about 5 mph.
With the help of a student on board, she pried open the door and managed to bring the bus to a stop. The bus had already entered an intersection and struck an oncoming car head-on. No one was injured.
Ms. Law, 39, was rushed to a hospital, where she died of a heart attack.
"As sad as this event is, it could have been a lot worse," Mr. Brown said. "Sharron got control of the vehicle, and as a result, the impact did very little damage. I shudder to think of the injuries that could have occurred had she not acted."
All bus drivers for the Cleveland district are given emergency training, but it was Ms. Young's quick thinking that prevented the situation from getting out of hand, he added. She has been a driver for the district since 1989.
"We teach our drivers to always be watchful and mindful of the students," Mr. Brown said, "but it was her instinct that really saved the day."
Vol. 21, Issue 10, Page 3Published in Print: November 7, 2001, as Take Note