School bus driver Susan Munoz helped protect Doug Hoffacker when a mobile construction sign (right) blew into his car on the freeway.
DENVER — A school bus driver here has been dubbed a "guardian angel" by a man she helped protect when his car became disabled
Late Tuesday night, fierce 60 mph winds whipped through the Denver metro area, uprooting large trees and damaging power lines. And while thousands of people found themselves without power, Doug Hoffacker found himself in a dire situation on the I-25 freeway.
As Hoffacker traveled, a mobile construction sign blew into the middle of five lanes of traffic, striking his vehicle’s windshield. The large sign ultimately destroyed the car, rendering it inoperative.
Hoffacker miraculously sustained only a small cut on his finger despite the harsh impact, but with traffic still traveling at high speeds behind him, he hadn’t fully eluded danger.
That’s when he said a second miracle happened: Denver Public Schools (DPS) school bus driver Susan Munoz was at his car window to check on his well-being.
“She was my guardian angel that night,” Hoffacker said. “I appreciate her so very much.”
Returning from a high school athletic trip, Munoz saw the accident unfold in front of her. She stopped the bus 4 feet behind his disabled vehicle in an effort to shield it from traffic. There were no students or other passengers on the bus with Munoz.
“With cars still traveling on either side of us, I didn’t step out of the bus right away,” Munoz said. “But I knew that with my foot on the brake, even if somebody were to have hit me, the bus would not move forward and smash his car.”
She contacted emergency personnel, and moments later, once another passerby stopped his car in the lane to the right of her bus, she made contact with Hoffacker.
After confirming there were no serious injuries, she turned her attention to the traffic. She set out flares and even borrowed traffic cones from nearby construction to block off the additional lanes.
“This was a scary situation, and we are extremely grateful that no one was seriously injured,” said Nicole Portee, executive director of DPS transportation. “We are equally proud of Susan for following emergency procedures as she went above and beyond her call of duty in the name of public safety.”
Munoz is trained in first aid and CPR, and she has been a DPS school bus driver for 29 years.
For more information on DPS transportation, go to transportation.dpsk12.org.