What started as a regular bus ride home from school ended with one middle school student from Michigan being hailed as a national hero for bringing his school bus to a safe stop after the driver lost consciousness.
Dillon Reeves, a seventh-grader at Lois E. Carter Middle School in Warren, Mich., was one of dozens of students on a bus riding home from school Wednesday afternoon, according to officials. Around 3 p.m., the bus driver, who has not been identified, radioed into the transportation base that she felt “really dizzy” and needed to pull over, initiating the process to allow dispatch to send an alternative driver.
But as the driver slowed down, she lost consciousness, Robert D. Livernois, superintendent of Warren Consolidated School District, said at a news conference Thursday. The bus began to roll toward oncoming traffic, he said.
Dillon was seated about five rows behind the driver and quickly threw his backpack down, “ran to the front of the bus, grabbed the steering wheel and brought the bus to a stop in the middle of the road,” Livernois said.
“In my 35 plus years of education, this was an extraordinary act of courage and maturity on his part,” Livernois said.
In the video, Dillon can be seen grabbing the steering wheel and calmly and slowly taking control of the brakes. Children are panicking and shouting in the background. “He had the wherewithal to push slowly, likely in anticipation that the bus was full of passengers,” Livernois said.
After bringing the bus to a stop, Dillon told the other students to call 911.
A man walking down the street and a woman two cars behind the bus came to the students’ aid, Livernois said. The man attended to the driver along with Dillon while the woman helped the children exit through the rear door so they wouldn’t witness their driver in distress.
Police and fire officials arrived on the scene within four minutes, Livernois said. No injuries among students were reported, he said, and no damage to the bus was reported.
The driver began in July and was “one of our best,” the superintendent said. She followed protocol exactly by alerting the base to send an alternate driver, school officials said. It also appeared that as she prepared to stop, she took her foot off the accelerator, Livernois said.
Skip McAdams, fire commissioner of the Warren Fire Department, said the driver was semiconscious when responders arrived to the scene. She became more “alert and oriented” as she was transported to a hospital and placed on an EKG monitor and oxygen, along with an IV drip. “She did not remember the incident itself but does remember that she wasn’t feeling well prior to the incident,” McAdams said, who added that her vitals were stable.
The driver, who is 40, remained in the hospital as of Thursday and was undergoing testing and observation. She had no history of fainting and had passed the Department of Transportation’s mandatory medical exam, Livernois said. The driver is undergoing drug screening as required by federal law, Livernois said.
Steve and Ireta Reeves, Dillon’s parents, praised their son’s actions and called him a hero. Dillon has been driving on his father’s lap along backcountry roads and up driveways since he was 4 years old, said Steve Reeves, who described his son as “very attentive to his surroundings.”
Ireta Reeves said when she asked Dillon how he knew what to do, he responded, “I watch [the driver] do it every day.”
The school board plans to hold a commendation ceremony for Dillon, Livernois said.