ONLY ON 13: Heroic bus driver calls saving girl from speeding van a ‘miracle’

Brunswick Brittonkill bus driver protects student

A Rensselaer County school bus driver says he relied on his training when he stopped a student from stepping into the path of a van.

Barry Sullivan has been a school bus driver for Brunswick-Brittonkill for 11 years.

Tuesday on Route 7 in Pittstown, he stopped to let off a 12-year-old student, when a van came barreling through.

School bus driver talks about close call with van

A Brunswick-Brittonkill school bus driver talks about preventing a girl from stepping out into the path of a van.

“Deployed my reds which start to open the door, and as I did that I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a white van coming,” said Sullivan. “I put my arm up so she could not walk down the side of the steps to go out the doors. Instinctively, I don’t remember doing this, but I closed the door.”

The van went on to hit a truck before going off the road.

“I pray that this helps people realize that there’s more than just bus drivers, there’s kids at risk and we just need to be safer, caution, take the time, watch the lights, that’s what they’re put on for. Stop! It doesn’t mean when the yellow is on, speed up to get by them,” Sullivan said.

The same little girl was running to her father six years ago and almost got hit when a car whipped by in the same place.

Now, her father saw this most recent close call.

“You can basically see the doors open and how close it was from her actually stepping foot right in front of that van,” said Joe Carista.

He is grateful to Sullivan.

“Excellent!” said Carista. “With his quick-thinking, it made all the difference.”

“We train these drivers over and over again on the bus stops until it becomes muscle memory,” said Transportation Supervisor Todd Wojtal. “And what he did was perfect to a T. We couldn’t ask any more of the guy.”

“They’re not my kids, but they technically are my kids and I feel bad and get emotional. I don’t want them hurt. I miss them when they’re not there. I make sure they’re not sick. They become a family,” said Sullivan.

There’s a national shortage of bus drivers. It’s an important job.

“It was just God willing and an instinct, trained by my supervisors that have done a great job with us,” said Sullivan. “It was to me a miracle for the girl.”

Sullivan picked up that same girl the next morning, and he said to her, “It’s good to see you.”