Witness helps student with special needs in bus crash through sign language

Witness to bus crash had just the right skill set to help out

Witness to bus crash had just the right skill set to help out

GREECE, N.Y. — The aftermath of a school bus crash in Greece is still being felt tonight.

A woman who helped one of the students in a wheelchair that was flipped over in the bus is speaking about those frantic moments.

Laurie Stuart tells us about that girl in the wheelchair who has special needs and can’t speak. Stuart has taught kids and adults with special needs for over 40 years. She knew exactly what to do when she made contact with that girl on the bus.

“I was at the counter with my back to Peck Road. Maureen was at the counter facing Peck Road, and I heard the loudest metal crunch, screech I ever heard in my life,” Stuart said.

What Stuart and her wife Maureen saw next outside of the window was unbelievable.

“We both just jumped up. Maureen said ‘God no, it’s a bus.’”

News10NBC got video of the crash, where you see a blue SUV go through a stop sign and hit the bus, causing it to flip over. Witnesses told us it sounded like an explosion.

Maureen immediately dialed 911 and the pair took off, ran out the door, raced to the bus and sprang into action.

“The bus was smoking quite badly and by the time we got the emergency door open it was just getting worse and worse, the smoke,” Stuart said.

Laurie and Maureen live on Peck Road, their home just steps away from where the crash happened and the bus rolled over. What Stuart did next to help rescue the girl in the wheelchair was a life-saver.

“The young lady in the wheelchair, it became obvious that she was nonverbal. I have worked with special needs kids for over 40 years. We got her upright, I was able to sign to her, asking her if she was okay,” Stuart said.        

Stuart explained that young lady was in shock and scared but understood her and responded.

“She was able to sign, ‘yes.’ I said ‘are your hurt,’ she was able to sign ‘no.’ I assured her that she was okay, and that help was coming, that everything was going to be okay,” Stuart said.

Marsha Augustin: How ironic is it that a bus with special-needs kids — who you have advocated for your entire life — crashed in front of your house.

Laurie Stuart: Everything in life happens for a reason. I hope this will help spread awareness.

Police say everyone on the bus is out of the hospital Friday night and now recovering at home.