Bus rides mean remaining sedentary for a long period of time. The long passage, the gentle rocking motion of the vehicle, and rumbling vibrations are enough to put anyone to sleep.
Passengers find that bus rides are a perfect time to catch up on sleep. If all goes according to plan, they’ll wake up and be at their destination.
There is only one person who needs to remain conscious throughout the entire trip: the bus driver. But on Thursday, December 28, the driver of an Ontario Northland bus passed out behind the wheel.
While the driver suffered what is being described as a “medical episode,” he did not simply fall asleep. And the incident plunged the passengers into a panic.
The bus was going down Highway 401 and was en route to Toronto from Sudbury, Ontario. According to the CBC, passenger Laurie Gennings was the first to alert the rest of the rest of the cabin as to what was going on.
“There was a bit of a commotion at the front and then someone turned around and yelled, ‘Can anyone drive a bus?'” said Gennings. “And at that point we all kind of panicked because the bus was still moving.”
The vehicle was in the process of merging into traffic when the driver fell unconscious. With oncoming cars rushing at high speeds, danger was imminent for those on the bus and everyone else in oncoming traffic.
Just as it seemed they were going to crash, a female passenger known only as Rebecca stepped forward and got behind the wheel.
With the driver unconscious and the cabin in a panic, a female passenger got behind the wheel and took control of the bus.
The unidentified woman managed to pull the bus over to the shoulder and bring it safely to a stop. “She got up and actually took the wheel and sort of edged us over and managed to stop the bus,” said Gennings.
Fortunately, the bus wasn’t moving at a high speed when the driver passed out. But only moments away from merging on the 401 Highway, she likely saved a number of lives.
Gennings says he didn’t get the opportunity to thank her, but wanted to take the time to do just that.
“It could’ve been a lot worse if that woman hadn’t stepped in when she did,” he said. “All of those people on that bus should thank her.”
“I didn’t get to greet her and tell her thank you after the incident but if she’s out there and she sees this — thank you very much.”
Emergency responders arrived on the scene quickly, ushered the driver to the hospital, and the passengers finished their journey to Toronto with a new driver.
Doctors found that the driver of the bus suffered a minor episode. The 60-year-old man suffers from a non-life threatening condition and is expected to fully recover.
Ontario Northland sent another bus driver to the scene to finish the drive to Toronto, and is currently investigating the matter further.
Nobody was injured in the ordeal, which amounted to little more than commotion. But if not for the heroism of the woman aboard the bus, it could have been a tragic disaster.