Three boys were commended last week for staying calm and taking action in an emergency.
The Avon Grove School Board of Trustees presented Ryan Boyd, Keith Gardner and Justin Main with certificates during its Jan. 12 meeting in a packed room that included television cameras.
While the children were riding Bus 53 to school on Dec. 23, the bus driver had a seizure, said Avon Grove Intermediate School Principal Denise Schrum.
"Three of our children took control of the bus at that time," she said. The boys stopped the bus and called for help.
Boyd and Gardner, sixth graders, had been featured for their bravery in a CBS3 news story the night before the meeting, Schrum said, and she showed the footage.
"They were real heroes," Schrum said.
The incident demonstrated "the great kids we have in our district, all helpful and cooperative," said Principal Carol Bove. "They worked together to make a terrible situation positive."
"We teach safety so they will react in the proper way," she said. "The kids did take control. They followed through with what they were taught."
School counselors talked with the students who had ridden Bus 53 that day to ensure their well being after the incident, Bove said.
"I was thankful that nothing happened," said Fran Du Vall, who with her husband Robert owns Du Vall Truck and Bus Co., the company AGIS uses for student transportation. "They knew what to do and who to call...Thank goodness it wasn't going down a hill. We really feel lucky and blessed that everyone was safe."
On Dec. 23, Bus 53 was travelling on Kelton Road, and in the vicinity of Pennock Bridge Road, the bus driver, Gail Cloud, had a seizure.
"I saw the bus driver's hand was shaking," Boyd said. "I ran to the front and pulled the emergency brake...I pulled out the stop sign and [put on] the flashers."
Gardner said he also ran to the front of the bus.
The boys worked together to call the bus company and describe the situation and to calm the other children on the bus.
Gardner said he and Boyd were "trying to calm the kids down" because they were making noise, and "a few of them were crying."
In the meantime, Mains, a fifth grader who had also seen the bus driver shaking, said he "waved out the window and got somebody to call 911."
That person, Boyd said, got on the bus to assess what had happened. But when he tried to call 911, the other children, who were in grades K through six, were making noise.
Gardner said he got on the loudspeaker and told the youngsters to quiet down.
West Grove Fire Company and Medic 94 responded to the scene, according to fire company President Bill Wohl. The paramedics took Cloud to Jennersville Regional Hospital.
Du Vall sent another bus driver to take the children to school.
Going through the experience was "scary. I was really nervous," Boyd said.
And after it was all over?
"I felt proud, and sad about what happened to the bus driver," he said.
"I'm just so thankful they knew what to do, to take over and get the situation under control," said Gardner's mother Joyce Gardner.
Boyd's mother, Laurie Boyd, said she had driven Bus 53 for four years and left Du Vall in August to work at Landenberg Post Office.
"I was surprised, and I'm just glad that Ryan knew what to do, to get the bus stopped and call for help," she said. "I went over that with him when I drove the bus, but I never thought he would have to do it. They did a good job."
Although she was home for Christmas, Cloud suffered more seizures and was admitted to Brandywine Hospital early this year, Du Vall said, and she is home now recovering.
"She sounded good, like she was back to normal," said Du Vall, who spoke with Cloud on Jan. 14.
According to Du Vall, Cloud may not operate a motor vehicle until she is seizure-free for six months as per PennDOT regulations.