Teen Grabs Wheel, Saves School Bus as Driver Has Heart Attack

A 17-year-old girl with little driving practice saves a school bus full of students as the driver has an apparent heart attack.

By Teresa Masterson
|  Thursday, Jan 26, 2012  |  Updated 1:41 PM EDT
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Graceanne Rumer, 17, became a hero when she steered a school bus to safety after the driver had a heart attack.

NBCPhiladelphia.com - Deanna Durante

Graceanne Rumer, 17, became a hero when she steered a school bus to safety after the driver had a heart attack.

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Graceann Rumer just started driving two weeks ago. She used the few driving skills she had to save a school bus full of students by grabbing the steering wheel as the driver collapsed from a heart attack Tuesday afternoon.

The bus driver died soon after.

"I just realized that there's no one driving this bus... I need to do something," Rumer said.

The 17-year-old senior at Calvary Christian Academy in Northeast Philadelphia had been driving to school for practice a lot lately, but, luckily for all, on Tuesday she happened to take the bus.

Rumer and about three dozen other students were riding the bus home when 51-year-old driver Charles Duncan suddenly crumpled to the floor at about 3:30 p.m.

With Duncan obstructing the brake pedal, Rumer acted quickly -- grabbing the wheel of the moving bus and making a U-turn to slow it down and change direction, as it was heading into oncoming traffic, witnesses say.

With still no access to the brake pedal, Rumer put the bus into park and successfully and safely stopped it, according to witnesses and bus company officials.

"I usually panic at like everything but I just reached over... grabbed the wheel and I pulled it over to the side and got off the road," Rumer said. 

None of the students was injured.

Parents of fellow students, friends and school officials all praised Rumer’s quick thinking and action.

"We had three of our children on the bus along with dozens of other kids and the outcome could have been much different," said Renee Lawsin. "She did something very heroic."

But Rumer dismisses being a hero, instead saying she was just the closest student to the front of the bus who had any driving experience.

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