Difference Maker

Seventh grader steers bus to safety in Washington (+video)

When his school bus driver collapsed, 13-year-old Jeremy Wuitschick grabbed the steering wheel and pulled the keys from the ignition.

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Middle schooler Jeremy Wuitschick takes control of a school bus in Milton, Wash.

A quick-thinking Washington state middle school student steered a school bus to safety after he saw the driver slump over and pass out from an apparent heart attack, authorities said.

Surveillance video shows 13-year-old Jeremy Wuitschick rushing down the aisle and grabbing the wheel Monday morning as another student yelled "Oh my God!"

"I was just thinking I don't want to die," Jeremy told the Seattle Times. "I turned to the right. Turned to the side of the road. Took the keys out of the ignition. We started slowing down, and I said, 'Somebody call 911!'"

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Jeremy and another student, Johnny Wood, did chest compressions on the driver. Police in the town of Milton, about 30 miles south of Seattle, quickly showed up and the 12 students were escorted off the bus.

The bus didn't hit any other vehicles, and no one was injured. Police Chief Bill Rhoads credited Wuitschick's quick actions.

"We're just happy the kid was thinking on his feet," he said.

Deputy Schools Superintendent Jeff Short said the 43-year-old driver was in "grave condition" at a Tacoma, Wash.,  hospital. He said students go over emergency procedures several times annually, learning what to do if a bus driver is incapacitated.

"It's just for this type of situation," Short said. "I think they did an outstanding job."

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