A former P.E.I. man living in Florida says he wasn't trying to be a hero when he helped rescue 27 children from a school bus that had plunged into a lake full of alligators.
Tom Batchilder and a co-worker were driving in Odessa, near Tampa, last Thursday when they came upon the school bus on its side, half submerged in water.
"I jumped out and we just run to the lake, man, and seen all the kids in the bus and we just jumped in and started pulling kids out."
'I wasn't looking for no heroism or nothing like that … We were just glad to see that everyone was all right.' - Tom Batchilder
Batchilder and his co-worker immediately started helping rescue crews pull the children, who ranged in age from six to 10 years old, out of the water.
"They were in hysterics. They were screaming and crying … and wet and they were just really scared," he said.
"I didn't even think, I just kept grabbing kids and taking them ashore."
No serious injuries
None of the children was seriously injured in the accident, and all were brought safely to shore.
Batchilder said the lake is a known alligator hangout.
"There's lakes all through there. There's alligators everywhere," he said.
"It never even crossed our minds when we jumped in. Never even thought about the alligators."
Batchilder said he's just happy he was in the right place at the right time.
"It all kicked in when it was all done," he said. "At the time, we didn't really think much of it, but after it was all done and the kids were all up on the bank and screaming, and parents were all running up and screaming out their kids' names and everything, it sort of hit home then."
"It's over, and everybody is safe. That's all that mattered to me, that all them kids got to go home to their parents that night … The rest of it doesn't even matter. I wasn't looking for no heroism or nothing like that … We were just glad to see that everyone was all right."