When a passing car lost control and pushed his bus off the road, Leonard Davis kept it upright and brought it to a safe stop.
School bus driver stays cool in icy crash
Bridgeport School District
The road was slick with ice, so Leonard Davis was driving slowly, with his bus full of high school basketball players and staff members.
In his mirror, Davis saw a car start to pass on the left. As it moved alongside the bus, the car lost control and slid into the front of the bus, pushing it off of the road. But Davis knew how to react.
“I just kept my cool and didn’t panic,” recalls Davis, who drives for Bridgeport School District. “I grabbed the steering wheel and held it real tight. My thoughts were: no brakes, no gas. Just ride it out.”
The strategy worked. Even though the bus tilted on two wheels, according to witnesses, Davis kept the bus from overturning, carefully steered it back onto the road and brought it to a stop.
After the car had broken free of the bus, it went off the road and rolled. But fortunately, no one on the bus or in the car was injured.
Davis was praised for his actions in the January 2011 incident, which took place around 10:45 p.m. as the basketball team was returning to Bridgeport from an away game.
“The whole community was really proud of what he did,” says Dan Dahl, transportation director for Bridgeport School District. “It was pretty heroic. He did all the right things at the right time.”
Davis was named Bridgeport’s classified employee of the month. He had only been with the district for about a year at the time of the incident, although he had previous professional driving experience.
Davis says that his school bus driver training prepared him for how to react in the crash. He notes that having used a driving simulator, which Dahl arranges to have brought to the district each year, was particularly helpful, because it simulates a variety of conditions, like rain, snow and a tire blowout.
Davis also points to divine providence.
“Every time I go on a trip,” he says, “I ask the Lord to guide me safely to and fro, which he did.”