Bus Crash Caught on Camera

POSTED: Thursday, September 24, 2009 - 8:29am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm

An Altar Valley, Arizona bus monitor is being called a hero after her boss says that monitor risked her life to save others when she noticed a car driving right towards the bus.

The accident happened Tuesday morning around 6:15 a.m.

On Wednesday, the Department of Public Safety released video captured by a photo radar van parked just yards from the crash scene.

In the video, the bus and then you see a black Saturn come up and cross the center line. The Altar Valley school bus driver tries to avoid the oncoming car but instead collides head-on.

Video from inside that Altar Valley school bus shows the quick thinking by the bus monitor to keep the four special needs students onboard safe.

"It's video that would make any parent cringe," says Tahni Richardson. "I knew it was going to hit."

A mother of five, Richardson's instincts kicked in. In the video, she stands up acting like a human seatbelt to protect her students, even though the kids were already buckled up.

"Her reaction is not to crouch and protect herself, it's to protect the children," says Superintendent Douglas Roe with the Altar Valley School District.

Roe is also praising the bus driver's reaction.

"We're calling him a hero," says Roe.

Roe goes on to say, "I don't know if it's training or instinct, but any other driver would jerked that wheel have driven that bus right into the ditch. But he very calmly just drove that bus as far off the road as he could."

The bus driver strained his neck and back.

Richardson bruised her right arm, but focuses instead on her students.

"They did very well, they're brave children, they're very smart," she says.

Roe says, "You know I feel so sorry for the people who were killed, but yet I'm so grateful our kids were not hurt."

Officials say none of the three people inside the car were wearing a seatbelt.

None of the students or adults onboard the bus were seriously injured, and all the students were all wearing seatbelts.

The bus, valued at $90,000, has been declared a total loss.