Five high school students help save bus driver

Five Frenship students were honored at the Frenship Independent School District board meeting Monday for heroism in assisting a bus driver in a medical emergency.

On Sept. 23, bus driver Nathan Wright pulled over and got off the bus and began to spit, according to the students who were honored.

Sophomore Raimie Martinez said, “He just started acting really weird. He stopped the bus and got out. I asked him if he wanted me to call 911. And he couldn’t talk, he was just, like, shaking his head.”

Martinez called 911 and dispatchers told her not to lay him down because he could choke. But then he started to fall on her, and three boys from the bus ran out to help.

“At first, everyone thought it was a joke when he got off the bus,” said Miguel Luna, a freshman. “Then he started throwing up, and everyone got all serious.”

Freshman Zach Hargis grabbed Wright from behind under his arms and laid him on his side so he wouldn’t choke.

While three boys helped Wright, including Hargis, Luna and junior Rey Acebedo, Christian Thompson, a junior, grabbed the radio on the bus to contact the Durham bus barn.

“I said, ‘We’ve got a problem with the bus driver,’” said Thompson.

Acebedo said he was sitting in the back of the bus when Wright got off, and he sat trying to figure out what was going on. When he realized there was a medical emergency, he said he ran by his fellow students, many of them seemingly stunned, to help.

“A bunch of people were horrified. They didn’t even move,” said Hargis.

At the school board meeting Monday night, board members heard about the incident, and Durham Transportation official Randi Bullard told the board that if not for the quick actions of the students, Wright might have died.

“These students basically saved his life, the paramedics told us,” said Bullard.

Bullard said to those at Durham Transportation, Thompson’s voice was strong and much more in-control than they felt when they heard his message.

“These students did something extraordinary that day,” said Bullard. “They are what we want our children to be.”

Thompson said he told all of the students to stay on the bus after contacting the bus barn, but because many of them were within a block or two of their homes, they just got off the bus and left. When Durham Transportation employees arrived, only about 12 of the 30 or so students were left.

Following the incident, the five students cited as heroes reacted in different ways. Hargis said he went home and started on homework, just like any other day, while Luna said he went home and ate doughnuts. Thompson said he felt numb afterwards, and said he had just “went into survival mode to try to help someone.”

Acebedo said he was sad, because Wright had been his bus driver since his freshman year.

“He’s a good guy, and we wouldn’t want him to leave,” he said.

Martinez said after paramedics arrived, she left because she was upset after seeing Wright in trouble.

“We actually walked home, because the ambulance was like, ‘He’s going to be fine,’” she said. “I couldn’t look at him anymore.”

For the next week, Martinez said she called the hospital frequently to find out if Wright was okay. Because of patient confidentiality, she said they could not tell her much, so it was a week before she found out he was definitely all right.

But following his release from the hospital, Martinez said Wright came to her house to thank her.

“I love him. He’s my buddy,” Martinez said of the driver who drove her during her freshman year.

For his part, Wright said he is very glad that students stepped up and helped him out when he needed it most.

“I was surprised, I really was, to say the least,” said Wright.

The bus driver said he had pneumonia and his lungs were full of fluid and his heart could not get blood and oxygen to his brain, causing him to pass out. Although the students thought he was having a seizure, he said doctors found no evidence of that during his stay in the hospital.

He said Martinez, a teen mom, was especially helpful.

“When I stopped the bus at one of my regular stops, I presume she was watching me,” said Wright. “She was the first one that noticed that something was out of the ordinary.”

“The other guys that stepped up, I’m very proud of all of them,” said Wright.

Wright said he was going on seven years as a bus driver, and described himself as semi-retired. Now he is working on recuperating, but he said he knows he will not return to driving a bus because of his health.

Most of all, he said he will always remember how the high school students helped him out.

“I’ll always be mindful of how they stepped up. I really will. And I really wish them the best,” said Wright.

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