AKRON, Ohio — A school bus driver here saved a 10-year-old girl from the path of a rolling school bus on Tuesday, but the driver herself didn’t survive the incident.
Driver Laura Zborowski, 51, died after she was run over by the bus, which rolled down a steep hill, hit an apartment complex and then crashed into a tree and came to rest.
The incident took place at Middlebury Academy, a K-8 charter school in Akron. Zborowski was conducting an emergency evacuation drill with students.
The bus is owned by Cincinnati-based contractor Petermann, which is a subsidiary of National Express Corp.
Police and residents near the school praised Zborowski for her actions to get the student out of harm’s way.
“She sacrificed her own life to save the life of this 10-year-old girl,” Akron Police Lt. Rick Edwards told The Associated Press.
“She’s definitely a hero,” Adam Fugett, who lives in the apartment complex that the bus struck, told the Akron Beacon Journal.
The Akron Police Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol are investigating to determine why the bus rolled. An Akron Police spokesperson told SBF at press time that the accident report was not yet available.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, police said that about 40 children had exited from the rear of the bus as part of the evacuation drill. The 10-year-old girl was still on board when the bus started rolling in reverse, and she jumped to the pavement. Zborowski pushed the student out of the path of the bus and attempted to board the bus to stop it, but the driver was pulled under the vehicle and dragged about 40 feet, police said.
Not far from Akron, Bedford (Ohio) City School District experienced a bus rolling during an evacuation drill about 10 years ago. In that incident, a driver stood up to give his students directions and did not set the parking brake. The bus rolled into another bus' back end, where students had been practicing evacuations just minutes earlier. No students were injured.
After that incident, Bedford Supervisor of Transportation Patrick Carney developed a new plan for school bus evacuation drills, which included chocking the wheels of each bus and checking to make sure that all parking brakes are engaged. For more details on Bedford’s evacuation drill system, see this SBF story.