From Franklin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Church:
Bus # 64 driven by Teresa Dooley was in an accident on Runnett Bag Road in Endicott region of Ferrum yesterday evening around 3:45 p.m. She was driving a 2015 Thomas C2 bus. Mrs. Dooley has been driving for the school division for 4 ½ years and has driving experience prior to this.
She had to swerve off the road to avoid hitting an oncoming vehicle during the Thursday afternoon bus run subsequently hitting a tree. While Mrs. Dooley was calling for help and working with the young students on the front of the bus, Ferrum Elementary 5th graders Brooklyn Tolbert and Nicholas Guilliams took the lead to safely get the students off the bus.
There were eight students on the bus at the time of the accident. The bus driver suffered a broken arm and a broken finger and Brooklyn had minor injuries but was treated and released. All students were released to their parents at the scene but not before being checked out by the local rescue squad.
The accident is still under investigation by the Virginia State Police.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Church and School Board Vice Chairman Julie Nix joined Principal Jennifer Talley to publicly thank Nicholas and Brooklyn for their heroic endeavors this morning at the school; however, Brooklyn was not at school today due to her injuries but was reached at home for a statement.
“We are very thankful that the injuries were not serious and that everyone will be okay,” said Superintendent, Dr. Mark Church. Church added, “I am proud of how our bus driver and our students handled themselves and for their quick action to make sure everyone safely exited the bus.”
Gregg Cuddy, Director of Operations for Franklin County Public Schools said, “We are also very thankful for the immediate response and assistance provided by the Virginia State Police, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, the Ferrum Fire Department, the Ferrum Rescue Squad, and numerous community residents who did not hesitate to help.”
“Once I got up off the floor, I was kind of shocked, so I got up and checked on Mrs. Teresa. I tried to get the little ones to stop crying and then we tried to open the door and we evacuated everyone off the bus once Mrs. Teresa was okay. I was really scared when it happened, but I knew we needed to get everyone off in case something happened to the bus we would all be safe. The bus evacuation drills are important and I was able to use what I had learned to get everybody off safe.” said Brooklyn Tolbert.
Nicholas Guilliams said “Yesterday afternoon, my bus was involved in an accident. My bus driver had to swerve to avoid contact with another vehicle. The right side of the bus hit a tree which destroyed the whole right side of the bus. Luckily after that, our bus driver, Mrs. Teresa, was able to get back on the road and safely stop the bus before any of us were majorly hurt. When the bus stopped, I stood up and saw that the whole right side of the bus was destroyed. I looked up to see if the bus driver was okay and she was helping and gathering the little kids, so I quickly opened the back emergency exit door so we could all escape. By that time, another student, Brooklyn Tolbert, was helping the little kids safely get down from the bus. Finally, after we all got out safely, we waited for the rescue workers to check us all out and our parents to pick us up. Mrs. Teresa, our bus driver, wasn’t seriously hurt, but her wrist was possibly broken or injured.”
Nicholas Guilliams is the son of Kevin and Karen Guilliams of Ferrum, and Brooklyn Tolbert is the daughter of Kelly Flowers and Joseph Tolbert of Ferrum.