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Teen drives school bus to safety

A teen with just two weeks of driving experience managed to steer her school bus to safety after her driver had a heart attack. WCAU-TV's Deanna Durante reports.

Graceann Rumer, 17, started driving only two weeks ago. But when her school bus driver collapsed from a heart attack Tuesday afternoon, she didn't hesitate to use what she knew to steer a bus full of children to safety.

"I just realized that there's no one driving this bus... I need to do something," Rumer said.

The 17-year-old senior at Calvary Christian Academy in northeast Philadelphia had been driving herself to school recently for practice, but on Tuesday she opted for the bus.

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Rumer and about three dozen other students were riding the bus home when 51-year-old driver Charles Duncan suddenly crumpled to the floor at about 3:30 p.m. Duncan died soon after.

With the driver obstructing the brake pedal, Rumer acted quickly -- grabbing the wheel of the moving bus and making a U-turn to slow it down and change direction, as it was heading into oncoming traffic, witnesses say.

With still no access to the brake pedal, Rumer put the bus into park and successfully and safely stopped it, according to witnesses and bus company officials.

"I usually panic at like everything but I just reached over... grabbed the wheel and I pulled it over to the side and got off the road," Rumer said. 

None of the students were injured.

Parents of fellow students, friends and school officials all praised Rumer’s quick thinking and action.

"We had three of our children on the bus along with dozens of other kids and the outcome could have been much different," said Renee Lawsin, one of the parents. "She did something very heroic."

But Rumer dismisses being a hero, instead saying she was just the closest student to the front of the bus who had any driving experience.

"I don't think it was that heroic though. But it was a legit miracle," Rumer tweeted Thursday. "God really protected us."

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