JIM THORPE, Pa. -- A high school student in Carbon County is being hailed a hero by his school community for saving not only his bus driver but also a busload of students.
Jim Thorpe Area freshman Matt Stauffer was boarding his school bus on Tuesday morning when he noticed something was wrong with the driver.
“I wasn't really thinking. I was just acting, just doing what I thought was right,” Stauffer said.
For 14-year-old Stauffer, Tuesday was just any other school day. He got on his school bus at Church Road and Jeans Drive about eight miles from the borough around 7:30 a.m.
But when he walked to his seat, he noticed students on the bus had panicked expressions.
“So I turned around, and the bus driver was like leaning out of his seat and only his seatbelt was holding him up,” said Stauffer.
Stauffer says he ran to help the man, then realized the man's foot was stuck on the gas pedal.
“I reached up, turned the bus off, and then I put the keys in my pocket. No one else could get them,” said Stauffer.
Still holding the driver, Stauffer told the other students to get off the bus and call 911.
“Once they saw I was taking control, they all listened to me, and they got off the bus, and they all stayed in one area,” Stauffer said.
Helped soon arrived, and the driver was taken to a hospital.
The superintendent says students are routinely given bus evacuation drills, so they know what to do in case of an emergency. They just had one of those drills last week.
“It's refreshing to know that the students paid attention and employed the skills that we gave them last week, but also just snapping into action and the focus that he and the other students exhibited,” said Superintendent Dr. Brian Gasper.
The school district is now planning to recognize all the students on that bus in some way. Still, Stauffer says he's no hero.
“I just helped him. I just tried to help everyone the best I could.”
Calls to the bus company were not returned, but the superintendent says he's told the driver is back home resting.