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SE KS bus driver being called hero after accident - KOAM TV 7

SE KS bus driver being called hero after accident

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Damaged school bus Damaged school bus
Damaged school bus Damaged school bus
Damaged school bus Damaged school bus
A bus driver in Southeast Kansas is being called a hero.  School officials say he saved students from what could have been a disaster.

Terry Karlin has been a school superintendent for 32 years, but has never experienced something like what happened on Tuesday.

"First accident where students were on board a bus," says Karlin.

Vernon Blackburn, also known as Shorty, has been a bus driver for the Oswego School District for 13 years.  Blackburn was driving up to a curve on a road in rural Labette County, when he saw an oncoming car also approaching the curve.

Picture it dark at about 6:15 in the evening.

"It looked like the headlights were moving through the trees and that pretty quick," says Blackburn.

"I was texting my mom and asking her what was for dinner," says 13-year-old MaKinzy Steeves.

Steeves and her friend, 14-year-old Kailee Ramsey, were on the bus with two other junior high and high school students.

Blackburn slowed almost to a creep, and moved to the shoulder of the road as much as he could, just in case the oncoming driver wouldn't be able to stay in their lane.

And they didn't, according to Blackburn.

"We were tossed, and then I remember the bus sliding off the road, kind of," says Ramsey.

"I like, flew back and smacked my head on the window, and my books kind of went flying under the seat," says Steeves.

The oncoming driver hit the driver-side front of the bus.  Blackburn says the impact made the bus jerk back about four or five feet.

The front driver-side tire of the bus is blown out, front tire rod is broken, and an air conditioner unit underneath is ripped apart.

"They stood up and I could see nobody was really hurt.  And I asked if anybody was hurt, and they said no," says Blackburn.

"He (Blackburn) was kind of upset.  He was crying.  Like, he had tears coming down his face, and I just felt really bad for him," says Steeves.

"The vehicle that struck our bus was substantially demolished," says Karlin.

"Just glad that she (oncoming driver) didn't hit the front of the bus.  It would've been a lot worse," says Blackburn.

In a few years, when Ramsey and Steeves are driving on their own, they'll remember this day.  A reminder to drive defensively and of how quick thinking can save lives.

The driver of the car was not injured.  The Labette County Sheriff's Office has cited the car driver for crossing the center line of a road.


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