Thorpe students aid bus driver
Jim Thorpe Area High School students quickly stepped into action Tuesday morning after realizing their bus driver was in trouble.
Matt Stauffer was boarding his bus at the intersection of Church Road and Jeans Drive in Penn Forest Township when he realized something was wrong. With his earbuds in, Stauffer could tell by the look on his classmates’ faces that it wasn’t going to be a typical ride to school.
“They were all looking up at the bus driver and I turned around and saw he was slumped over,” Stauffer said. “The only thing holding him up at that point was his seat belt.”
With many of his friends in a state of shock and disbelief, he knew something had to be done.
Stauffer ran to the front of the bus and pushed the driver back into his seat. The driver’s eyes were rolled back in his head and he started to seize.
“His leg tensed up and his foot was on the gas, so I reached over to turn the bus off,” Stauffer said. “I gave him a big bear hug to keep him still and then we called 911 and waited for the ambulance and the police to get there.”
Though his actions gave the impression he may have done this before, Stauffer said Wednesday he had no official training and had never encountered someone having a seizure before.
“I just saw something was wrong, and I went up to him and tried to do what I thought was right,” he said.
Jim Thorpe Superintendent Brian Gasper said he couldn’t be prouder of the students and took notice to something specific when he reviewed video from the bus.
“Nobody was on their cellphone or taking video,” Gasper said. “Kids get a bad rap for always being attached to their technology, but here we had a situation that called for them to take action and they did. Matt, in particular, for a 14-year-old kid to have the composure he did and take things into his own hands like that, it was very impressive.”
Though Stauffer said he had no formal training in dealing with seizures, Jim Thorpe does hold frequent drills on bus evacuations and safety events. The most recent of those drills took place last week.
“I can tell you that a lot of the things that are discussed in those bus drills were put into action on Tuesday, and the students handled them perfectly,” Gasper said. Since the incident, Stauffer said he hasn’t been in touch with the bus driver or his family, but the last he heard, the driver was at home resting.
Stauffer described the driver as an extremely nice guy.
“Every day he picks us up, he says good morning and tells us to have a great day,” he said. “The last thing he tells us is if I don’t see you this afternoon, I’ll see you in the morning. I just hope everything turns out OK for him.”