A women’s college basketball coach is being credited with averting what might have been a tragic accident after taking control of a team bus after its driver lost consciousness.
The Associated Press reports that University of Dubuque women’s basketball assistant coach Justin Smith sprang into action to stop the bus after it swerved into a guard rail traveling 70 miles per hour on Sunday morning. The driver had passed out, and was later transported to a local hospital.
Smith hit the brakes, stopped the bus, and worked with other coaches to get the bus off the highway to safety.
“We’re still a little in shock,” Smith told The AP. “I’m just thankful everyone’s okay. … I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. The actual initial accident and me jumping out and grabbing the wheel felt like three seconds.”
Apart from the driver, nobody was hurt in the accident. Many team members were sitting near the back of the bus, and Smith said most of them didn’t realize what had happened at first.
“The girls didn’t recognize the severity of it right away,” Smith said. “When you’re 18, 19, 20 years old you feel invincible and that’s a good thing they can bounce back from.”
The driver had reportedly told team coaches that he hadn’t been feeling well in recent days. Further information about his condition was not available.
Smith credited his time as a coach and quick thinking with his actions.
“I’ve been a high school coach and had a lot of late nights on yellow school buses,” he said. “For some reason, always had in the back of my mind, what if the bus driver fell asleep. It’s fight or flight mechanism and 99 percent of the people would have done the exact same thing.”