ATKINSON — Police are calling two Atkinson Academy students heroes for their quick action during an incident earlier this week when their bus driver suffered a medical emergency and collapsed behind the wheel.
After investigating Tuesday’s frightening ordeal while students were being dropped off on Maple Avenue, Police Chief Timothy Crowley said he learned that third-grader Nolan Barry and fourth-grader Thomas MacKeen were among five students on the bus and reacted quickly when they noticed the driver fall off the seat and onto the floor as she was slowing down to drop off another student.
Crowley said both of the boys ran to the front of the bus to see if they could help and that Nolan, who saw the bus driver operate the bus controls during the school year, activated the emergency braking system to stop the bus.
Crowley said the boys tried unsuccessfully to open the door and at one point attempted to kick it open.
Thomas reported that other students were upset and began to panic, but that he calmed them down and got them back into their seats, Crowley said.
Nolan and Thomas then began pounding on the windows to get the attention of parent Jesse Silva, who was waiting outside for his son to get off the bus.
Silva and another parent, Michelle Chouinard, who was also nearby waiting for her daughter, ran over to help and call 911.
Silva and Chouinard said they were unable to get the side door open, but eventually Silva ran to the back of the bus and was able to open the emergency door to get inside before police, fire and rescue personnel arrived along with the school’s principal and other staff members who were driving by and stopped to help.
“These two boys did a great job in staying calm during a chaotic situation and prevented the incident from getting worse,” Crowley said.
The driver, who works for First Student transportation company, was transported to Parkland Medical Center in Derry. Her condition was not known Thursday.