Red Deer firefighter who stopped drunk school bus driver receives bravery award
Kurt Stenberg jumped into action after erratically driven bus hit tree and sign and kept going
A Red Deer firefighter was honoured with the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta's Award for Bravery earlier this month for his efforts in stopping an intoxicated driver behind the wheel of a school bus filled with elementary school children five months ago.
"As a firefighter and EMT I'm used to emergency situations, but never expected something like this to happen right outside my house," Kurt Stenberg told the Calgary Eyeopener.
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On June 5, Stenberg had just arrived home and was unbuckling his four-year-old daughter from her car seat when he saw a bus drive over a tree and a speed limit sign before veering back onto the road.
"I waved my arms and went out to the middle of the street and pointed to the side of the road to kind of wave to her to pull over," Stenberg said.
But the woman driving the bus kept going, so Stenberg jumped back in his truck and pursued the bus. When he caught up with it and spoke to the woman, he said she seemed confused and tried to convince Stenberg that another bus hit the sign and the tree.
"I thought that seemed a little fishy," he said. "So I pulled the truck in front of the bus so she couldn't pull away just in case she was going to try to flee the scene."
Stenberg persuaded the driver to come out of the bus.
"She was fumbling with the controls to open up the side door and eventually did get them open and started to walk down the stairs to come out and could barely walk. And she stumbled down the stairs," he said.
Another parent who arrived at the scene stayed with the driver as Stenberg called 911, applied the air brakes and the bus turned off.
The 18 children on board were wide-eyed and spooked but otherwise fine, he said. Stenberg told the kids the driver wasn't feeling well.
News of Stenberg's actions that day spread quickly and he received lots of thank-you cards and gift certificates, he said.
On Nov. 10, he was one of several people from across the province honoured for acts of bravery at Edmonton police headquarters.
"I am not sure who nominated me but I am grateful," he said. "It's been an honour to represent Red Deer firefighters even though I wasn't on duty when all this happened."
Shelly Kolodychuk, 42, was sentenced on Nov. 6 to 45 days in jail for driving over .08 and dangerous driving.
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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener