Disaster was averted in Maine recently, thanks to the quick actions of a school bus driver whose bus was hit head-on by a distracted teenage driver.
The incident occurred the afternoon of Nov. 21. A school bus from Maine School Administrative School District No. 27 was bringing 58 middle schoolers back from a field trip when it was struck by a 19-year-old driver who became distracted by her cat, looked down and swerved her car into oncoming traffic. Superintendent Benjamin Sirois credited the “quick thinking and amazing driving skills” of bus driver Arnold Dubois that “resulted in the oncoming car hitting the front corner of the bus, rather than a head on collision.”
“Furthermore, Mr. Dubois was able to maintain control of the bus as it entered the ditch beside the road, missing a utility pole by only a few feet, and steadying the bus as to not roll on its side,” Sirois told School Transportation News.
Dubois radioed in to tell Transportation Supervisor Peter Saucier that he and the students were fine but that the other car was in “bad shape, and I don’t know about the driver.”
“I dispatched an empty bus to the scene for students and dispatched police and fire and Jaws of life for the passenger car, and an ambulance,” Saucier told STN. “When I arrived at the scene Mr. Dubois was out of the bus walking around and making sure everything was as OK as could be.”
“I did all I could to hold it straight going into the ditch,” Dubois told Saucier at the scene. “My arms are a little sore from holding on so tight to stay straight, but I’m OK.”
Saucier added that student and staff injuries amounted to “a few little bumps and sore necks.” The district said that, following protocol, several students were taken to the Northern Maine Medical Center “for precautionary measures after stating they hit their heads on the back of the seat.” The driver of the car sustained head and leg injuries and her cat was killed.
“We were very fortunate to have Arnold Dubois behind the wheel that day. Mr. Dubois provided that day that nearly 50 years of driving experience was the difference in what could have been a tragic accident,” shared Sirois. In 2016, Dubois retired after 48 years of driving the district’s school buses, but came back on as a part-time driver.
“Mr. Arnold did an awesome job with the whole situation. A veteran driver with much experience has proven itself again,“ Saucier told STN. “Mr. Dubois does not miss any trainings and takes part in the skills competitions annually provide by MSAD #27 along with Maine Association for Pupil Transportation and the Maine Dept. of Education.”
Dubois was presented with an award in honor of his actions.