Jordan Bach, a fifth-grade teacher at Seneca Elementary School in Baltimore County, was hailed as a hero after he maneuvered a school bus full of children to safety yesterday after the driver blacked out.
Bach and 22 pupils were headed to a school orientation program at Middle River Middle School about 10:30 a.m. when bus driver George Mudd, 69, of Oliver Beach, lost consciousness and slumped down in the driver's seat.
"I was in the middle of the bus when I saw him go, and it looked like he was going to fall into the well of the bus ... into the stairs," said Bach, 26, of Owings Mills. "I ran up and caught him. ... I was shaking him and trying to get him to wake up."
The bus was traveling west on Eastern Boulevard at 25 to 30 mph. Bach said he was propping Mudd up with one arm and searching with his foot for the brake pedal. Then, he noticed a police cruiser driving nearby and instructed pupils to get the attention of the officer.
Once he was able to find the brake pedal, Bach brought the bus to a skidding halt near the shoulder. Police and an ambulance were on the scene quickly. Bach said he used a cellular phone to call Seneca Principal Verletta B. White, who drove to the scene with the school nurse.
"We are really, really proud of him," White said of Bach, who has been a teacher for five years, all of them at Seneca. "He has the best interest of the children at heart. He is more than a teacher; he's a hero."
Back at the school, White asked pupils to call their parents to let them know they were safe. A counselor met with the children as a group and individually. A letter was sent home with pupils to explain what happened.
Mudd was taken by ambulance to Franklin Square Hospital Center, where he was treated and released, said Rita Fromm, the school system's transportation director.
It was unclear yesterday afternoon what caused Mudd to faint, she said. He will undergo a medical examination before he resumes his bus route.
Reached at his home last night, Mudd said, "I thank God there was an adult on the bus who could take over."
He said he remembers nothing of the incident.