April 10, 2008 in Nation/World

Boy says he steered bus to save brother

Joe Milicia Associated Press
Gus Chan (Cleveland) Plain Dealer photo

David Murphy, 11, steered a school bus out of harm’s way when it started rolling. (Cleveland) Plain Dealer
(Full-size photo)

CLEVELAND – The 11-year-old boy who steered a runaway school bus to safety said Wednesday he did it because he saw a truck coming at them and because his brother also was on the bus.

David Murphy said he worried afterward that he might get in trouble for jumping into the driver’s seat, but he said police and fire officials reassured him that he did the right thing, and so did his classmates.

“Some of them said I saved their life,” Murphy said in a phone interview.

Murphy was among 27 students headed to a charter school Monday when the driver stopped at a service station, pumped about $40 of fuel and went into the restroom while the bus engine idled. In his absence, the bus began rolling down a side street that swoops through an industrial area and was on a collision course with an oncoming tractor-trailer rig.

Murphy said he looked up and saw the truck approaching.

“I hurried up and turned the wheel so I could get out of the truck’s way,” Murphy said.

After dodging the truck he aimed the bus for the last pillar on a bridge to avoid going farther down the hill. “There was nothing good down there,” he said.

Murphy said one of the reasons he jumped into the driver’s seat was because his 12-year-old brother Patrick was on board.

Patrick said he was about to jump off the bus but stayed because he saw his brother steering. “Yeah, he’s a hero,” Patrick said.

Some children did jump from the bus as it rolled about 300 feet. Fifteen were checked at hospitals but none had severe injuries.

David’s mother, Patricia Murphy, said he told her that God made him do it.

“He didn’t even have time to think. He’s amazing,” she said.

It’s not clear why the bus rolled away from the station, police Lt. Thomas Stacho said. Investigators did not find any mechanical problems and a gas station employee watching the bus said none of the children appeared to tamper with anything, he said.

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