‘I’m thankful I was there’: Nurse helps rescue children with special needs after bus accident

A Bon Secours behavioral health nurse stepped into action in April to help save kids from a school bus hit by a car and drove down an embankment
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Meet Anne, a behavioral health nurse at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital.

Anne’s supervisor says is the epitome of stability.

“She’s patient. She’s kind and she just reminds us that we’re nurses here, but also nurses in our community. I mean, she showed us that,” said Yolanda Maurice, the interim Chief Nursing Officer.

Anne says April 21 was a regular day.

She was on her way to pick up her son from his day program on Hull Street.

I just saw the bus ahead of me. And then I thought, what’s going on?” said Anne.

At 3:49 p.m., a bus was sideswiped by a pickup truck and went down an embankment and into Pocoshock Creek.

The crash happened on April 21, 2022.
The crash happened on April 21, 2022.(Christian Davies)

“The car just came across the road, and then it hit the bus and the bus went off the road and hit the guardrail and went through the guardrail and then down an embankment,” she said. “And then it flipped on its side. And the whole time you’re thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh.’”

Questions raced through her head.

“I’m a behavioral health nurse. I don’t work with critical injuries. What if they’re really hurt?”

She made her way down the embankment.

“I could hear people on the bus. And right away I thought to myself, ‘There’s people with special needs, there are kids with special needs on the bus.’”

The students, still strapped in their seat belts, now lying in rising water.

In less than a minute, help arrived.

Two men climbed through the driver-side window and quickly unbuckled the kids. A third man attended to the driver.

Simultaneously, more good Samaritans poured in through the back of the bus, including Anne.

She says the emergency alarm on the bus made matters worse for the kids and Anne directed someone to keep their hands on a button to make it stop.

“They were so scared, you know, the kids were scared,” said Anne. “You could hear the distress caused by it, they were putting their fingers in their ears.”

The next step was to communicate an important message to others outside the bus.

The instructional assistant had already said they’re a flight risk. You know, they’re so scared to make sure that they didn’t run into traffic. Of course, we didn’t realize they’d stop traffic down the way.”

A man held on to the hanging seat belts to create an unobstructed path for the kids to get off.

One by one they and the driver were taken to safety.

Anne was one of the last on the bus, collecting their bookbags and tablets - all of her experience kicking in.

Well, I taught five-year-olds for 17 years and I have a son with special needs and I’ve worked as an instructional assistant for a few summers in special education systems. So I just knew,” said Anne.

Anne’s colleagues wanted to reward her with the NBC12 Acts of Kindness. It comes with $300 and a gift card to Mexico Restaurant.

“What it says about her to me is that when she leaves here, she’s always a nurse. You know, she’s a nurse,” said Lisa Castro, the Director of Behaviors Health at Bon Secours. “When she’s in the grocery store, at the bank or at Kohl’s, you know, she’s going to be there to help whoever needs her.”

When asked how she felt after the incident. “Thankful. Thankful that I was there.”

But Anne acknowledges that this is an award so many others deserve as well.

“I don’t think that it’s something that I really needed to be recognized for. I think with a whole lot of other people there that day that also could have been recognized and should be recognized.”

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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