Pupils praised for heroism on bus

Sergeant Chris Dunbar, of Gore, hailed St Peter’s College pupils (from left) Charlotte Davie,...
Sergeant Chris Dunbar, of Gore, hailed St Peter’s College pupils (from left) Charlotte Davie, Luke Davie, James Chalmers, and Oliver Davie, as heroes for their actions last week. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS
A quick-thinking Gore teenager saved the lives of her classmates by grabbing the wheel of an out-of-control school bus and helping steer it to safety.

Charlotte Davie, 16, was the first to spring into action when the bus swerved off the road after the driver suffered a medical event.

Her actions, and those of three others who helped her, have been praised by police, who say the St Peter’s College pupils are heroes.

"There’s three things you can do. You can fly, you can fight or you can freeze. In this case Charlotte’s fought," Sergeant Chris Dunbar, of Gore, said.

Charlotte said the Waipahi run school bus, with 14 children on board, was heading towards Gore on May 14 when it began swerving into oncoming traffic.

Initially, she thought the erratic weaving must have been because of black ice, but that thought was immediately dismissed as she ran to the front of the bus and realised the driver was unconscious.

"[The driver] didn’t really respond to me. She was going over the other side of the road again," Charlotte said.

Adrenaline kicked in.

With the help of her brothers, Luke, 12, and Oliver, 14, and fellow pupil James Chalmers, 14, they grabbed the wheel and managed to get the bus to the side of the road.

"They helped me get the bus to stop. I leant down and pushed the brake and then we stalled the bus and managed to get it to a stop," Charlotte said.

It was not until after the adrenaline had worn off that she realised how serious the situation had been.

"It was pretty scary once we stopped and [realised] we had just stopped the bus.

"We didn’t really expect it at all, we just did what we could to help."

Sgt Dunbar commended Charlotte for taking the lead in the situation, though everyone working to stop the bus had been a hero, he said.

"They saved the lives of these children and they saved them from injury."

At a special assembly at the school last week, deputy principal Darren Jack praised the "brave" actions of the pupils for avoiding what he said could have been a "disaster".

"It was an extremely dangerous and scary situation.

"They saw the need immediately and moved to make the situation as safe as possible.

"They actively got involved and I guess it was largely Charlotte, being the first to get to the front and to assist the driver and try to control the bus."

Charlotte, Luke, Oliver and James were each presented with an Arohanui Award for their quick thinking and courage, and Charlotte received a commendation from police for her life-saving actions.

The school confirmed the bus driver is well and recovering.