Driving With Presence of Mind

Posted on December 1, 2002
Delores Little, a 24-year school bus driver with the Middletown Board of Education in Middletown, Ohio, has seen a lot in her time. But nothing quite compares to a recent experience with a sewer drain. Little was driving her morning route in early December when she noticed that a second-grade student who was about to board the bus had fallen into a storm drain on the side of the street. Little raced to the child’s rescue and pulled him out unharmed, making her somewhat of a hero in the school district and surrounding community. She discussed the situation with SBF Plus and how she saved the boy. SBF Plus: Exactly where were you when the boy fell? Little: I was behind the wheel of the bus about to stop to pick some students up who were waiting at the side of the road. He was one of the kids about to board, and I was looking right at him as he walked toward the bus. One minute he was right there and the next minute he just disappeared. SBF Plus: What was the first thing you did? Little: Well, the boy is only in second grade, so I was pretty worried when I noticed he was missing. There was no water in the sewer but it was wide open and it’s pretty deep, so I thought it looked pretty dangerous. The first thing I did was pull the bus over and put my hazard lights on. I tried to get my seat belt off as fast as I could so I could run outside to make sure he was OK. I told my children just to sit still and wait for me to get back. Then I ran to the drain to get the boy out. I pretty much did everything on instinct. SBF Plus: What was the condition of the boy? Little: He was clinging to the side trying to get back up. He had fallen all the way to the bottom of the drain. I leaned in and pulled him out by grabbing his clothing. He was scared but I think I was pretty scared too, ducking and leaning over that sewer. SBF Plus: Did you just continue your route after that? Little: First I called to dispatch to tell them what happened. The boy was crying and was pretty shaken up. So I waited until his parents got there and picked him up. I guess they were pretty thankful that I had gotten him out. SBF Plus: How does this fit into your experience as a school bus driver? Little: I have been a school bus driver for about 24 years, and I have seen some pretty strange things. But never have I experienced anything that ranks up with this. SBF Plus: Is the storm drain still a problem and what has been done to try to prevent this from happening again? Little: I have been told that this was not the first time there has been a problem with that particular storm drain. I think that it’s just an accident that traffic can knock the top off the drain. They may try to block it up. All I know is, I just have to keep my eyes open. It’s my job to help these children out, and I think I did what any school bus driver would do.
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