The good news is that the school bus driver is walking around with no apparent injuries except to his pride. The bad news is that the school bus ended up on its side, dangling precariously on the edge of a bluff next to the most dangerous curve on my road.
I didn't see the accident but I was the first person on the scene, and I have never felt so helpless. I pass that bus at about the same spot nearly every morning and I wave to the bus driver as he prepares to start his route. Today I rounded the curve and saw the bus sliding down the bluff on its side, with wheels spinning and some sort of fluid gushing from beneath. The sight was disconcerting, to say the least.
I stopped, of course, parking my van with the flashers on to alert oncoming traffic (unlikely at that time of day), and then I scurried around toward the front of the bus to see what I could do. The bus driver was standing up and calling for help on the radio, but I didn't see a way to get down there to help him out of the bus, nor did I see a way out. The driver stood there like a bug under glass, not 15 feet from where I was standing but totally inaccessible. "I'm okay," he mouthed, waving me off. What could I do? A klutz in a wimpy car--with no cell phone!--isn't much help at a time like that.
It wasn't long before help arrived; by the time my husband reached the scene, the driver had been removed from the bus, another bus had been despatched to cover the route, and the wreckers had arrived. Everything is fine, he told me. Nobody was injured. The road will be closed for a while until the bus gets removed, but other than that, life goes on as if nothing unusual had happened.
So why are my palms so sweaty, and why do I feel as if I've been kicked in the stomach?