Bus driver dies; students steer vehicle to safety

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Sealy ISD students have been hailed as heroes as they were able to stop a moving school bus and steer it to safety after their driver collapsed while transporting the youth at the end of the school day Sept. 6.

Gerald Ellis Gardner, 73, had just picked up a group of students from Sealy Junior High and was exiting the driveway onto Highway 90 when he “suddenly became unconscious,” school officials reported in a written statement.

One junior high student and three high school students took swift action and steered the bus to safety in order to allow for evacuation. CPR was performed and Sealy Fire Department responded with an ambulance, but “the heroic efforts of these first responders were unfortunately not enough.”

Some are saying it’s a miracle that not only were the 25 students on the bus unharmed, they knew what to do in an emergency situation. In respect for their privacy and healing process, The Sealy News has not attempted to contact the students who were on the bus that day.

A celebration of life ceremony was planned in Gardner’s honor Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Shepherd’s Way Church, 1225 Eagle Lake Road, Sealy.

“Heaven gained another angel today, my awesome dad Gerald Gardner,” daughter Nancy Gardner Barnett wrote on her Facebook page on the day of the tragedy.

School officials also expressed condolences, and Superintendent Sheryl Moore said Monday she would be spending the afternoon with the family.

“We are extremely grateful for the years of service Mr. Gardner gave to Sealy ISD and to their students,” Moore’s statement read. “Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the Gardner family at this time. We are also fortunate that no students were injured. Our students are to be commended for their quick thinking and remaining calm during the evacuation. In addition, Sealy ISD is very appreciative of the efforts made by the first responders and citizens.”

Gardner worked for Sealy ISD for six years and prior to that, drove buses for Bellville ISD. He was known as a man of God and an avid bowler and mechanic.

His full obituary appears on page 2 of this week’s edition of The Sealy News.

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