GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — A Yellow Medicine County Deputy and an off-duty fireman are being hailed as heroes after they combined to stop an out-of-control school bus where the driver was suffering from an apparent medical episode.
Shortly after noon Wednesday dispatchers began receiving 911 calls from people reporting a small school bus had crashed into several vehicles in the city of Granite Falls and was now driving down State Highway 212 in the wrong lane.
Deputies who responded were able to catch up with the bus about two miles west of Granite Falls, traveling on the wrong side of the road and driving at about 40 miles per hour. Deputy Sheriff Eric Diekmann was able to pass the bus and alert oncoming drivers with his lights and siren, while Chief Deputy Wayne DeBlieck followed and relayed information about what was going on.
It soon became clear to both deputies that the driver was likely suffering some type of medical episode. They were also able to see that no students were on board.
"It's not really in any blueprint to get in front of a moving vehicle," Diekmann said. "It was very nerve-wracking, if you want to call it that."
After about five minutes Deputy Diekmann slowed his squad and using his brakes, was able to make contact with the bus and bring it to a crawl.
At that point Greg Meyer, a Granite Falls firefighter who had witnessed the start of the incident, ran across the highway, opened the door of the bus and was able to shift it into park.
"Would I do it again. Yeah. Do I think it's a big deal? No," Meyer said. "I stopped a school bus. I don't really see that as a hero."
Law enforcement feels differently.
"Meyer had witnessed the accident in Granite Falls and was also in front of the bus with his flashers on attempting to warn on coming motorists," reads a news release from the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff's Office. "His selfless actions made this very dangerous situation come to an end with nobody getting injured."
The 70-year-old driver was taken by ambulance to Granite Falls Hospital. The bus is owned by Renville County West School District, and the superintendent confirmed Thursday that the driver was released from the hospital.
There were no other injuries associated with the incident.
"That is amazing," Meyer said. "That's the most amazing part of the whole thing, I think."