Passenger saves bus from full-on collision
Published: 18 Dec 2011 10:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Dec 2011 10:06 GMT+01:00
When a bus driver took suddenly ill on Saturday, causing the vehicle to cross over into the wrong lane, passenger Patricia Claesson quickly grabbed hold of the wheel and drove the bus into a ditch, thereby avoiding a full-on collision.
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Even so, she's reluctant to call herself a heroine.
"No, I definitely don't think so," she said to news agency TT.
Patricia Claesson works as an assistant in Alseda congregation, in southern Sweden.
Together with some twenty teenagers from the congregation, she was headed to Ullared shopping centre for some Christmas shopping on Saturday's.
On the highway just west of Vetlanda, she noticed that the bus had crossed over to the wrong lane.
Making her way up to the driver's seat to inquire what he was up to, she realized that he was unresponsive, and when she looked out on the road, she saw heavy vehicles approaching rapidly.
"I grabbed the wheel and managed to turn right, and so the bus drove down into a ditch, she said.
Police officer Lars-Gunnar Rydholm in nearby Jönköping is full of praise for the congregational assistant's level-headed actions, which he describes as an admirable achievement.
And the congregation's minister, Håkan Rosén, who has called a meeting on Tuesday for all those involved in the accident to meet and talk, was equally impressed by Patricia Claesson's actions.
"Her presence of mind is fantastic," he said to TT.
However, Claesson, reluctant to accept this title, played down her feat.
"I just did what you're supposed to do," she said.
When the bus was in the ditch, flipped over on its side, Patricia Claesson continued to take charge, despite having hurt her head and back in the crash.
"There was smoke coming from up front, so I made my way there and turned the engine off. You never know," she said.
"Then we all helped each other out of the bus. That went calmly, I wanted the kids to feel safe."
Emergency services and police were quickly on the scene, but by then Patricia Claesson had already got almost everybody out.
She, the driver and a 15 year-old girl were then taken to the Högland hospital in nearby Eksjö for treatment, where the driver had to stay on overnight for observation.