Kim Bosco is not someone who is used to the spotlight. In fact, she seems rather uncomfortable being the center of attention. But the bus driver for the West Morris Regional School district, hailed as a hero by some for her actions during last Friday’s bus crash, is going to have to get used to her 15 minutes of fame.
“Everyone said I did a wonderful job,” Bosco said.
That “wonderful job” was her avoiding injury to the students on her bus when a driver say was asleep at the wheel crossed the double-yellow lines and slammed into Bosco’s bus.
“As we were approaching Sammy’s, I could see there was a car heading toward us that was starting to drift,” Bosco said. “Now I am the type of driver that if I see something like that, I try to move over and give them room. “
In this instance, police say a 22-year-old Chester woman was asleep behind the wheel of the Hyundai hurtling toward Bosco and the kids.
“It came to a point where I realized the car was not going to correct itself,” Bosco said. “So I slammed on my brakes and kept as far to the right as I could.”
That change, according to authorities, most likely avoided a head-on collision and loss of life.
Instead, the Hyundai struck the school bus near the driver’s front wheel causing significant damage to the Hyundai as it continued its movement along the side of the bus, essentially shredding apart before coming to rest on a guardrail.
According to Bosco, the fire department from Ralston and Mendham responded to the scene because the damage to the bus included a battery that was “sizzling” and leaking. But at the time, Bosco wasn’t thinking about the Hyundai in pieces, or the thousands of dollars of estimated damage to her bus. Her sole concern was for those in her care.
“Once I secured the bus, I immediately addressed the students. My responsibility was with my students and to see if my students were injured,” Bosco said. “Fortunately, none of them were. And I helped the police evacuate them to a safe distance from the bus while the fire department did their work.”
While the driver of the Hyundai was transported to Morristown Memorial Hospital for treatment, the students were loaded up on another bus and taken to school while Bosco waited for a tow truck. Only when they were safely away did the five-year veteran allow herself break down.
“After the kids were gone, then it hit me,” Bosco said. “And I broke down a little with (fellow bus driver) Joann (Dippel). She is a good friend and has been great support to me.”
For her part, Bosco said she received nothing but support since the accident. As the students were waiting to speak to police, they made a point of thanking and praising Bosco and that the affirmations and kindness allowed her to get back on the bus that afternoon, which wasn’t easy.
“It was hard. A little bit, but I just had to do it,” Bosco said. “If I didn’t do it that afternoon it would have been much worse.”
Receiving thumbs up and kudos from parents was a nice surprise for Bosco, but it didn’t buy her much at home.
“I have three kids. The 17-year-old thought it was pretty cool. But my 14-year-old wasn’t too impressed,” Bosco said.
Despite the accident, Bosco knows that bus travel is still extremely safe, a statement echoed by Nancy Genuardi, the Transportation Supervisor for the district.
“You are 60 times safer in a bus than in a car,” Genuardi said. “And I would like to remind people that they need to be patient when they see a bus on the road. A bus driver would rather wait and sit at a left hand turn than try to dart out into traffic. They are responsible for carrying your children and your neighbors children and they take it very seriously.”
Both Genuardi and Bosco agreed that other drivers affording a bus more courtesy on the road would go a long way to avoiding accidents caused by impatience.
“I am always letting buses out when they are trying to make a turn,” Genuardi said.
At the end of the interview and after discussing with Genuardi her next round of runs, Bosco was off doing what she loves. Back behind the wheel of the bus.
And if the response from coworkers, administrators and the community is any indication, no one would have it any other way.
“I love what I do,” Bosco said. “And I treat those kids on my bus as if they were my own.”