Graceanne is just your typical high school student... who happened to save a bus full of school children recently. ? Really!! ? A hero in our eyes and our latest PopStar. ? Take it from Graceanne: accidents happen fast and reactions matter! ? Although her heroic efforts did NOT involve phones or texting, she learned how important it is to always be aware when driving. ? Her words of advice for teen drivers is "if you really need to text or talk on the phone for some important reason, just pull over. It could save a life, even your own." ? More about Graceanne and her amazing story:
Age: Seventeen and a half. Always has: my camera! I love taking pictures, and you never know when you’ll need it. Proudest of: being there to take control of the bus. Is thankful for: God’s protection through everything and the love of my friends and family. Is afraid of: losing good friends. Believes everyone should: live everyday like it is their last. Life is short, so don’t hold a grudge and keep your loved ones close. Is embarrassed by: my clumsiness. I have the ability to fall or trip at the worst moments. My style is: comfortable and cute. Pet peeve: when people act fake towards others.
About the incident
You were on your schoolbus on your way home from school on January 24th. ? Can you tell us what happened? Well, I was coming home from school after a long day of tests and things, so I was pretty tired. We got down the street and we came to a normally very busy intersection. The light was red, so we began to stop, when all of a sudden I heard a loud noise. I looked up, and I noticed there wasn’t a bus driver. I also noticed we were now in the middle of the intersection, since we never came to a complete stop. ? All the little elementary kids were crowding the front of the bus looking around. All I heard was "passed out." ? My friend, who I was sitting? with, immediately said, “Graceanne you have to go up there! You have your license!” all I could think of was, “Yeah, but not to drive a bus!” ? But I realized I was the only one who was close enough to do anything. So I jumped out of my seat and as I was running to the front I yelled for? someone to call the cops. I just remember thinking, that we are in the middle of a intersection at a red light, and there is no one driving this bus full of kid.? So, I went to the front and saw my driver in front of me on the ground blocking the seat and the brake pedal. All of a sudden I heard one of the girls say, “Graceanne we’re going into the other lane!” So I looked up and saw that we were out of the intersection, and going into oncoming traffic in the other lane. I immediately grabbed the wheel and got it in? the right lane and pulled the bus over to the side of the road. Thankfully, we didn't hit anyone or anything, including the guard rail which I stopped the bus right in front of. I stopped the bus by putting it in park since I couldn’t reach the brake pedal and I couldn’t think of anything else. When? I got it parked, all the kids in high school all worked together to calm down the elementary students, who were crying or just really scared, by praying for them, and getting them to the back of the bus until the police? and our principals came.
We are so sorry about Mr. Duncan, who lost his life after he had a heart attack while driving. ? How quickly after he crumpled to the floor did you realize someone had to take action? Almost immediately. It took the girl who was sitting next to me to encourage me to get up there.
Where was the bus heading after he lost control? Through an intersection a busy intersection.
How many people were on the bus? Around thirty to thirty-six kids.
You reacted so quickly, what were you thinking when you were steering? I don’t really remember, just that I knew I had to get the bus pulled over? and off the road before cars came.
You couldn't reach the brake pedal… did you ever panic and think that maybe you couldn't help the situation? No, not that I remember. I found the gear shift almost right away.
When did you realize you were safe and that your fellow students would be ok? When the cops were called, and the whole bus started praying for our driver. I was just so thankful that no cars hit us or we didn’t hit any cars. It was really a miracle.
Are there any actions of friends or others on the bus that you would like to mention? Yes! Two ninth graders, Emily and ? Nick. A few eleventh grade guys really helped out, especially Frank and Micah. Really all the high school kids worked together to keep everything under control. It was something I'll never forget; how even after a long day at school and we just wanted to go home, we all jumped in to action to help the kids and keep everyone calm. It was just really amazing.
Does what happened change your perceptions about driving in general? Yes, I really learned how you never know when something might happen. I think of the other cars who were driving who easily could’ve hit the bus were they not paying attention, and it really taught me how you always need? to look out for danger because you really never know what’s going on in the other vehicles around you.
Since you now understand how quickly an accident can happen, do you have any tips you'd like to share for teen drivers? Especially those who might be tempted to text and drive? or talk on the phone and drive? Definitely. I have always been very against texting and talking on the phone while driving. It is really just so dangerous. I mean, if you really need to text or talk on the phone for some important reason, just pull over. It could save a life, even your own. Life is crazy, and you never know what is going to happen, especially when driving. It is just one of those things where you need to be paying attention.