MT. AIRY, NC -- Mt. Airy City Schools has released video of a school bus crash in Mount Airy earlier this week. The driver who collided with the bus was arrested for Driving While Impaired.
The crash happened after school on Tuesday at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Mickey Lane. There were no injuries.
Bus driver Joe Thompson is being praised by the school system for his quick thinking to lead all 21 children on board to safety.
"Definitely the adrenaline was really racing through my body at that point," said Thompson. "For a split second, I was almost panicked. But in that situation you just have to push panic off to the side and do what you're trained to do."
Surry County EMS Director John Shelton says the driver’s truck caught fire after crashing into the school bus.
Thompson says, at that point, he remembered his training that bus drivers practice before every school year.
He was able to calmly get all 21 students off the bus in a single-file line.
The kids followed him up a small hill until emergency responders arrived on scene.
"Being a father, I think your parental instincts take over at a time like that. You begin to treat those kids just like they are your own kids," said Thompson. "You're making sure they are getting out of that bus and they are away from the danger and away from the trouble. You're going to do anything it takes to make sure those kids are OK."
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mt. Airy City Schools issued the following statement about Thompson:
"Bus driver Joey Thompson did an amazing job with students. He accounted for all students, contacted emergency services, and notified district officials. He then walked students to a safe area. They were assessed by EMS and returned to Jones Intermediate School."
In 20 years of being a bus driver, this was Thompson's first crash.
On Thursday, Thompson returned to work, just two days after the crash.
The pick-up truck driver, Tommy Branch, was charged with driving left of center and DWI.
Trooper's say he had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .11, which is just over the legal limit of .08.
He was booked and released on bond.
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