How a bus driver saved 50 teens from Hamilton and Brantford

While driving through whiteout conditions, two transport trucks collided in front of a bus carrying 50 Hamilton and Brantford high school students. The bus's driver, Peter Knapp, made a split-second decision manoeuvring the bus into a ditch, avoiding a collision.

Bus carrying 50 students from Hamilton, Brantford swerved to avoid crash in March snowstorm

Driver Peter Knapp drove the bus into a ditch near Port Hope to avoid a collision after two transport trucks crashed up ahead. (Kelly and Bryanna Eden)

Usually, Kelly Eden would sit in the car and wait for her daughter Bryanna to get inside. But this time she stood outside to see her daughter got off the bus safe and sound.

Earlier that day — March 12 at 4:58 p.m, to be precise — Eden received a text message from Bryanna, who was on a bus back to Hamilton and Brantford after a March Break trip to Montreal.

“Ok, don’t freak out and don’t call because my phone is dying but the bus just crashed, everyone is OK we are in the ditch,” the message read.

“Naturally, like any mother, I did freak out and, of course, I called,” Eden said in a release.

Bryanna Eden will be attending the University of Windsor in the fall. (Kelly and Bryanna Eden)

Immediately, Bryanna told her mother what had happened, “We are OK, Mom. Not sure what’s going on but the bus driver saved our lives,” Bryanna said.

“It was an eerie feeling all day,” said Eden.

In Brantford, where Kelly Eden works for the Paratransit bus service, there was bad weather. They had cancelled buses and the snow squalls were sweeping north, where she knew her daughter would be riding.

“I’m not going to say I was excepting it, but I won’t say I was surprised.”

While driving through whiteout conditions on the 401 near Port Hope, two transport trucks—one carrying fuel—collided in front of the bus Bryanna and 50 other Hamilton and Brantford high school students were riding on. The driver Peter Knapp made a split-second decision manoeuvring the bus into a ditch, avoiding a collision.

Mom writes thank you letter

“He had to find his out,” Eden said was the way her daughter described it. “Of course, being a new driver and going through driver’s ed, she just had learned these terminologies.”

According to Eden, the drama of the situation didn’t sink in until Bryanna got home.

“When she came home and we had the chance to talk she just kept saying that [the driver] was so awesome and that he took care of them.”

She said more than anything, her daughter was just thinking about how the driver must have been feeling.

Eden hasn’t personally spoken with Knapp, but did write an open letter to him via the Amalgamated Transit Union they both work for.

“Sometime [bus drivers] don’t always get the acknowledgement they deserve,” said Kelly Eden. Knapp was named a "Transit Hero" by the union.

All students and the driver made it out of the accident without injury, and all returned home safe.

Bryanna, who will be starting at the University of Windsor in the fall, is scheduled for another bus trip to New York City in May.

Eden said her daughter is not too concerned about it.

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