Warning: This is not your typical blog post.
“The school bus has been in an accident and it’s in the water.”
These are words that no parent wants to hear.
But hear we did, while waiting to pick up our 7 year old daughter Sonia from school. The neighborhood bus stop, which is normally comprised of an informal congregation of parents waiting to pick up their kids, was deserted. As we started to wonder what was up, a frantic parent rolled her window down as she sped by, and told us what happened.
The accident occurred in a rather large pond at the entrance of our subdivision. There were streams of cars parked along the grass. Traffic was backed up on both lanes. Firemen, medics, and police had already descended upon the scene. Along the shore were cries from parents and children alike. A helicopter circled overhead.
I jumped out of our car and raced towards the chilling scene. I didn’t know what to expect. And then there it was, a bus on its side, partially submerged.
I felt an overwhelming sense of panic and fear. “Where is Sonia?”
My eyes darted around the crowd. Amidst the sea of parents, onlookers, children and officers, it was all a blur. It felt like being in a nightmare. I moved through the crowd. After spotting a few neighbors amongst the throng of onlookers, I found Sonia. She was soaking wet, shivering, and crying profusely. If I had a sense of feeling overwhelmed, I can only imagine what being in the accident might have felt like for her.
I hugged her tight. It was the best hug ever.
My little girl was alive and not hurt.
From her words, and the others who I spoke with, the bus driver was driving too fast, and lost control of the bus when the school bus’s brakes failed. Sonia can’t swim – and she was struggling underwater until a woman came to her aid and rescued her.
Miraculously everyone on the bus, including the driver, was okay. Our neighborhood children were saved and brought safely to shore, thanks to the quick actions of witnesses who saw the accident take place. And a brave 5th grader named Nick safely brought a handful of terrified kindergartners from the bus to safety.
I’m writing this because I want to thank the lady who saved my daughter’s life. I don’t know who she is – and maybe I’ll never know. But my wife, myself and my family are grateful for her courageous efforts.