PARRSBORO – What took Brady Dunham only seconds to do last week is still the talk of the town, several days later.
The 16-year-old Parrsboro Regional High School student has been the subject of numerous media interviews, accolades, and is being labeled a hero by many in his hometown for steering his school bus to safety after the bus driver fell ill on the way to school on Dec. 13.
Brady continues to greet the attention with a shrug and a smile, as if it was just another day at the office.
“It’s just whatever,” he said. “A little hard to get used to.”
The Grade 11 student had barely stepped on the bus in Cross Roads and sat in his seat at around 8:30 that morning when things started to go wrong. First, the vehicle started drifting across the yellow line, and then it left the road and went through a small ditch, causing plenty of bumping and tossing the 20-30 students on board around.
Brady, who was sitting at the rear of the bus, sprang into action.
“I was like, ‘What the heck is going on?’” he recalled. “So I ran up to the front of the bus, and she was going towards the Glooscap (Restaurant). I thought, ‘Oh my God.’ I grabbed it and wheeled it. Her feet were on the gas and the brake, so I kicked her foot of the gas so it would eventually come to a stop, and it did.”
The bus had crashed through a fence before coming to a halt on the property of Perry Colpitts. The students were shaken but not injured. Many of them were crying and yelling, according to Brady.
Parrsboro Regional High School principal Chester Clark said the students were very fortunate.
“They’re very lucky they got through it with no serious injuries,” he said. ”That pass they went through… there are a lot of obstacles.”
He praised Brady for his quick actions, as well as another student on the bus, Destiny Hoeg, who called 911.
The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board is investigating the accident, so had little to say about the details of the event, but reported that the students were OK and were transported to school.
There were approximately 20 children on the bus with no reported injuries. As a precaution, all were examined by Emergency Health Services (EHS).
The driver, a 51-year-old woman, was examined by medical personnel, but no update was available on her condition. She was transported to Cumberland Regional Health Centre by EHS. Damage to the bus was minimal.
“We are happy to report that students maintained their composure and did their best to support one another until emergency help arrived,” said Debbie Buott-Matheson, communications manager with the board.
The outcome could have been a lot worse, according to Sgt. Allan Carroll of the Cumberland RCMP.
“The kids were shaken up, but not hurt,” said Carroll. “I’m glad there’s not more I have to tell you, because that bank is quite steep a little bit further back.”
If the bus had continued in the direction it had been heading, Brady said it could have easily gone over the steep bank behind the restaurant.
“It’s gone through my mind hundreds of times,” he said.
The second of four brothers, Brady said he’s never had this much attention before. He’s been interviewed on television, radio and in newspapers, all wanting to hear his story. He said he wasn’t afraid at the time, and didn’t really have time to think at all.
He and the other students on the bus will be commended for their actions during a special reception at the school on the afternoon of Dec. 19.