‘A hero’: N.S. school bus driver’s split-second decision avoids major highway crash - Halifax | Globalnews.ca (2024)

A school bus driver in the Halifax area says he’s still processing a dangerously close call that occurred on a highway last week — as a tractor-trailer tipped over an overpass and came metres away from colliding with his bus full of students.

‘A hero’: N.S. school bus driver’s split-second decision avoids major highway crash - Halifax | Globalnews.ca (1)

Terrie Brown, who’s been driving buses for nine years, said he was driving on Highway 102 near Lower Sackville, N.S., on Thursday afternoon after completing a pickup at a nearby elementary school in Bedford. As he was driving under an overpass, he saw a large truck crash into a guardrail and fall over another overpass ahead.

“I was as hard as I can get on the brakes,” he explained during an interview with Global News on Wednesday.

“For a few seconds, I wasn’t sure if I was going to even stop in time, if I’m being honest with you. It was pretty scary.”

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There were 23 students on the bus at the time, Brown said.

Brown said he initially anticipated that the truck was going to stop once it collided with the guardrail. Instead, he said it took a “hard right” and collapsed onto the highway underneath. There were no major injuries as a result of the incident.

If a truck careening off an overpass and into oncoming traffic wasn’t enough, Brown added that the vehicle was also transporting large rocks.

“He had boulders, not just gravel,” he said, adding that some rocks flew off the back of the truck upon landing. Thankfully for the bus driver and students, the cargo went in the opposite direction.

“Someone was with me that day, that’s all I can say.”

Brown said he began applying his brakes as soon as he saw the truck collide with the overpass railing.

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“By the time he finished sliding and I finished braking, we were about a foot apart,” he said.

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“If I had been two or three seconds later (braking), then I don’t know.”

Brown said that due to the weight of a school bus, taking a sudden turn can result in the vehicle entirely tipping sideways. He said he had to make a “split-second” decision that he was going straight down while braking.

“My decision was to just hang in there and keep the brakes on hard and hope that it stops,” he said.

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In addition to expressing gratitude for the routine maintenance that ensures the area’s school buses are always operating up to speed, Brown added he’s thankful all the kids remained in their seats at the time of the incident.

“Because if they weren’t, it could’ve been another situation even if I didn’t hit the truck,” he added.

‘I think he’s a hero’

Cody MacNeil, an operations manager with Southland Transportation, said Brown’s actions “saved lives” in that fateful moment.

“I think he’s a hero, absolutely,” he said.

“We looked at the GPS system after the fact and he was about 100 metres away from where the incident could’ve occurred. Travelling 100 kilometres per hour and took six seconds to stop, which is hard enough in a compact sedan, let alone a 13- to 14-tonne bus.”

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MacNeil said Brown’s quick reaction to the incident was the greatest response he’s seen throughout his 12 years in the transportation industry.

“We’re incredibly proud of Terrie and the actions he took last Thursday, preventing certain tragedy from happening and saving the lives of himself and the 24 passengers he had on board.”

As for the reaction from the community, Brown said he’s received an outpouring of thanks from parents for his quick decision-making that kept their children safe.

“It was quite an ordeal,” he said, adding that he was given a day off on Friday following the incident. He said he was a bit anxious to get back to work on Tuesday but he settled back into his routine after a few minutes.

“After I did my first pickup, talking to the kids and everyone else, I was fine. I think when I picked up those same kids and went under that same overpass and once I did that, I was fine.”

He said the kids thanked him as well, greeting Brown with high fives when arriving on the bus.

Looking ahead, Brown said his biggest takeaway from this incident revolves around school bus safety.

“Tell the kids that take a school bus to please sit down, please stay in your seats,” he said. “You don’t realize how important it is until something like this happens.”

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He said once the bus came to a complete stop, the students told him they were safe but had been “up against the seats.”

“I said, ‘That’s why they’re built the way they are,'” he said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind if one of those students were standing, I don’t know where that student would end up.”

‘A hero’: N.S. school bus driver’s split-second decision avoids major highway crash - Halifax | Globalnews.ca (5)

Halifax council to tackle traffic congestion problems

— with files from Zack Power

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

‘A hero’: N.S. school bus driver’s split-second decision avoids major highway crash - Halifax | Globalnews.ca (2024)
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