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Last updated 9:57AM ET
March 6, 2021
Teacher Hailed as Hero in Bus Crash
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Students say it was a teacher's quick actions that kept a bus full of Alabama fifth-graders from going into oncoming traffic before it crashed on I-59 and sent 20 people to the hospital this week.

Math teacher Amy King grabbed the steering wheel and tried to straighten the swerving coach, witnesses said.

Alix Romano, a Bryan Elementary School fifth-grader who sat near the front of the bus, and others told The Birmingham News in a Saturday story that it appeared the bus driver Gerald F. Bailey, 75, of Cullman passed out.

Alix shut her eyes and tucked her chin on her left shoulder to demonstrate the driver's condition at the time of the Friday accident.

King was thrown through the windshield and airlifted to UAB Hospital, where she was listed in serious condition, officials said.

"She jumped over and pulled the wheel," Alix said.

The bus, owned by Adventure Bus Charter & Tours Inc. of Sumiton, was headed north to Chattanooga's Tennessee Aquarium. It was the lead bus in a caravan with two other charter buses hired by the Morris school and cars driven by chaperones.

It was carrying 44 students and two teachers when it overturned around 7:30 a.m. CDT about 30 miles northeast of Birmingham. The bus sideswiped 200 feet of guardrail before it came to rest upside down in a drainage ditch.

"Everyone was screaming. It was really scary," Alix said.

Alix spoke while icing her right shoulder outside the Springville Armory, where anxious parents rushed from northern Jefferson County to pick up their children after the accident.

Springville Fire Chief Richard Harvey said 15 children were sent to Children's Hospital. Two adults, including the bus driver, and two children went to St. Vincent's East, and King was flown to UAB.

Bailey was kept overnight for observation and is expected to be released.

After the crash, many students found themselves on the bus' ceiling and broke windows to get out.

"We were all upside down and we crawled out the window," said Chris Parker as he stood outside the armory drinking Kool-Aid.

Wreckers had to lift the bus off one child, Harvey said. The wreck is being investigated by Alabama State Troopers.

Along the interstate, students were transferred to yellow Jefferson County school buses after parents protested staying on the charter buses and the children were dropped off at the armory.

Many parents and students remained shaken as they stood outside the armory, trading hugs, recounting the morning ordeal.

"To drive up to that scene, and not know if your child is on the bus is a parent's worst nightmare," said Regina Riley, a chaperone who was following the bus. "My son was in the second bus and saw it all. He's very traumatized."


Information from: The Birmingham News

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