Teacher honored for actions after school bus crash - KCTV5

Teacher honored for actions after school bus crash

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BONNER SPRINGS, KS (KCTV) -

The Kansas Highway Patrol honored a Pembroke Hill teacher for her quick actions after a school bus carrying students on a field trip crashed.

"The bus had barely come to rest when Ms. Marie "Jodi" Stallard, the teacher/chaperone, leapt to her feet, immediately opened the overhead escape hatch and began moving the children to safety and out of the bus," according to the KHP. "Ms. Stallard then moved to extricate the driver as he had fallen unconscious and was being strangled by this own seat belt."

A doctor said the driver could have suffered death or paralysis if not for the teacher's actions. In addition to the two adults, there were 36 students on the bus. More than 20 children were injured.

The driver of the bus had a medical condition caused by his diabetes, troopers concluded after reviewing the driver's medical records and speaking with physicians.

Stallard, 40, moved efficiently once help arrived.

"She stayed side by side with Capt. Dek Kruger of the Kansas Highway Patrol from his arrival until all the children had been released at Bonner Springs High School," the KHP said. "Throughout this entire event, she assisted in identifying injured children who had been transported from the scene, putting law enforcement in touch with the appropriate school officials and Ms. Stallard then participated in orderly release of children to their parent or guardian. She never once considered herself, her needs or her injuries throughout this ordeal."

Because of her heroic actions. Stallard was given the "Honorary Trooper" award on Tuesday. This is the highest award that the state agency gives civilians.

"It is important for me to express my gratitude to many people who were at the scene of the accident," Stallard said during Tuesday's presentation. "It seemed as soon as the bus settled the Highway Patrol, the paramedics, personnel from the car dealership, people who just happened to be passing by and Jim Young (Pembroke teacher on a second bus) were to help immediately."

The ceremony was held at Bonner Springs High School where children who didn't go to the hospital or were on board a second bus were taken after the crash.

The bus crashed just before 1 p.m. on Aug. 21 while taking the ramp from southbound Kansas 7 to Kansas 32.

As students were boarding the bus, the principal and vice principal noticed that he was draped over the wheel with his head as if asleep. He said he was taking a nap and told the principal and vice principal when they asked if he was OK that he was fine.

"I remember saying a few words to him without much response," Stallard told troopers after the crash. "During the bus ride, I believe I saw his eyes close briefly. Once I felt us exit, it felt that were moving too fast. Quickly I felt the bus lose control and remember bracing. "

Altogether, 24 people were hurt in the crash including the driver.

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