WARREN, Minn. — A school bus driver here was honored on Friday after preventing his bus full of students from colliding with a semi-tractor trailer earlier this month.

Francis Kuznia, a driver for Warren-Alvarado-Oslo School District #2176, was presented with the district’s first ever Unsung Hero Award during Warren-Alvarado-Oslo High School’s graduation ceremony.

Lon Jorgensen, the district's superintendent, told School Bus Fleet that on May 3, Kuznia was driving west on Polk County 67 when he saw the semi, which was loaded with 36,000 pounds of square hay bales, coming toward him. Jorgensen said that Kuznia was able to steer the bus into a ditch and then back on the road to avoid colliding with the semi. None of the 24 students on board were injured.

Officers with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release on its Facebook page that the driver of the semi, Lawrence Haddaway, appeared to have suffered a medical emergency at the time of the incident, which caused him to veer off the road. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to police.

Jorgensen said that Kuznia, a more than 30-year driver, is a hero, and that if it weren't for his quick actions, the situation could have been much more serious.

“It ended well, and I shudder to think what I’d be dealing with if Francis hadn’t saved those children," he added. “We've never had anything like this happen before so this is the first award we have like this, but I’m glad we were able to honor him in this way.”

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