A flock of geese collided with a double-decker Megabus traveling from White Marsh to New York City on Saturday morning, and passengers are hailing the driver as the "Sully" of ground transportation.
The bus driver, Andre Sweeney, who was traveling along the New Jersey turnpike along Interstate 95, kept control of the bus after a goose smashed face-first into the windshield, cracking and destroying it.
The bus jolted, but no passengers were injured. Sweeney sustained minor injuries, reporting glass in his eyes. He traveled about 2 miles up the road to a rest stop in Mount Laurel, N.J., where state police and paramedics responded, and Sweeney was treated for minor injuries.
Megabus sent relief buses to pick up the passengers.
The flock of about a dozen geese were just taking flight from a field on the side of the highway when the collision occurred around 11:15 a.m.
"I saw them take off, and I knew it wasn't going to be good," said Laetitia-Laure Brock, of Washington. Brock said she travels on the Megabus to New York frequently, and it was the first time she sat in the top of the double-decker, immediately adjacent to the driver.
"I was very surprised that the bus didn't move," she said. "I heard the sound, and if I hadn't seen the windshield, I would have thought we were OK."
Brock compared Sweeney's handling of the collision to that of Chesley B. Sullenberger, the U.S. Airways pilot who was forced to land a plane in the Hudson River in January 2009 after a flock of geese collided with one of the plane's engines, disabling it.
Sweeney, who has been driving the bus for 7 months, told passengers that it was too much of a risk to try to avoid the birds because he saw cars in the next lane.
"He did a great job," Brock said. "I was always dubious of the double-decker buses. "Now I see they can handle whatever happens."
Carol Vasques, of Anne Arundel County, said she doesn't know how the bus driver stayed as calm as he did.
"I drive up here myself, and it would have scared me," Vasques said." I would have been in the next lane. He was so controlled."
She and a friend were traveling to Central Park to celebrate the birthday of John Lennon. The frequent Megabus traveler said her faith in the company's safety was strengthened by the experience.
"As John Lennon would say," Vasques said, "another day in the life."
New Jersey state police who responded to the rest stop where the bus stopped said they had never responded to a geese-bus collision before.
The driver said he has hit birds, but they have never shattered the windshield.