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A Huntsville couple is grateful for the quick thinking of one school bus driver. They say his actions saved the lives of their children and authorities say the close call illustrates a growing problem.
December 4th 2004 is a day Huntsville school bus driver, Bobby Gilbert, will never forget. It's the day his quick reflexes saved the lives of two small children. There is surveillance video from Gilbert's bus that shows when he stopped to let 2 students out and a white truck speeds along the shoulder, and nearly hits a little girl.
" She went ahead and stepped off the bus and she stopped and by that time I saw the truck coming and I kept hollering wait, wait, wait and she heard me hollering and she took off running and by that time the brother had stepped off and I had enough time to reach and grab him by the jacket and pulled him back up on the bus, " recalls Gilbert.
Gilbert followed all the necessary precautions. He turned on warning lights and used a stop signal arm, but the driver of the truck broke the law by passing a stopped school bus and Huntsville police say this is a growing problem in the city. Tickets are issued and dozens of complaints are filed every month.
" Yes it is an inconvenience to stop, but there really is a safety issue here. The drivers are doing everything they can to get the kids home safely, " said John DeBrock, Huntsville ISD's Assistant Superintendent.
Gilbert and other bus drivers go through extensive training, but nothing could have ever prepared him for this.
" The drivers just have to be aware of what is going on around them, the traffic, the kids, and they just got to be prepared," said Charles McGowen, HISD's Transportation Coordinator.
The parents of the children and school officials deem Gilbert a hero, but the modest driver says he was simply doing his job.
Huntsville's school district offers school bus safety training courses to drivers and students and they even run PSA's reminding motorists to stop for school buses. Now all they need is for the community to do so.