maine students steer school bus to safety after driver dies mid-route

Maine Students Steer School Bus to Safety After Driver Dies Behind the Wheel

A school bus driver in the quiet town of Topsham, Maine died following a medical event behind the wheel.

Arthur McDougall, 77, was pronounced dead shortly after the incident on Monday.

Middle and High School Students Aboard the Bus Sprung Into Action After the Driver Collapsed Mid-Route.

maine students steer school bus to safety after driver dies mid-route
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“It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that Arthur McDougall, our bus driver who was transported to the hospital this morning, has passed away,” Maine School Administrative District 75 Superintendent Bob Lucy wrote on Facebook shortly after McDougall was pronounced dead.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Arthur’s family, friends, and colleagues. This is very difficult news to share and process,” Lucy also wrote. “We will have counselors available to support all students and staff in our schools and District buildings tomorrow and in the upcoming days.”

Authorities from the Topsham Police Department also released a statement via Facebook early Tuesday morning.

Diane McDougall asked that we pass along her thanks to all of the students, citizens, and first responders who attempted to save her husband’s life yesterday. She stated it was overwhelming to hear of the efforts taken by those involved,” Topsham Police said in the statement. 

maine students steer school bus to safety after driver dies mid-route
MSAD 75 / Facebook

Another press release from Topsham police stated that McDougall experienced a medical emergency “that left him incapacitated” while he was behind the wheel of the bus around 7:30 AM.

Over a dozen middle and high school students were on board the bus at the time of the scary incident. The students’ quick reaction helped bring the bus to a stop as it approached the Cathance River Bridge while going east on Route 201, police also said in the release.

maine students steer school bus to safety after driver dies mid-route
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Brothers Rufus and Chhaya Hinkley were in the back of the bus when the incident occurred, a local Fox News affiliate reported.

“I saw someone run up and grab the wheel and hit the brake on the bus,” Rufus told the outlet, also stating, “And we kind of were, like, off the road.”

“I think that it was great that they acted so quickly and tried to get help so fast,” Chhaya shared.

maine students steer school bus to safety after driver dies mid-route
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Another student on the bus that morning attempted to give first aid, local station WSAZ reported, and a bystander had helped put the bus in park, according to another local outlet, WMTW.

After Topsham Police arrived on the scene, they administered CPR while using an automated external defibrillator on the unconscious bus driver. He was initially transported to Mid Coast Hospital, then he was airlifted to Maine Medical Center in Portland, authorities said.

McDougall is survived by his sister Jo, his wife and “soulmate” Diane, and his three children, Arthur, Matthew, and Pamela, according to a memorial tribute posted to Jo’s Facebook the day after the incident.

The bus driver served in the US Air Force for four years and worked for Bath Iron Works for 36 years before retiring in 2007, Jo’s moving tribute also stated.

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maine students steer school bus to safety after driver dies mid-route
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Jo listed some of her brother’s favorite activities that included fishing and travel. He “loved to create things with his hands from beautiful paintings and woodwork,” his sister also said. He “will be dearly missed and remembered as a gentle, kind and thoughtful man.”

This chilling incident could have had a terrible outcome had it not been for the quick thinking of the students on board. Thankfully, no students were injured.

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