April 9, 2012— -- A middle school student who jumped into the hot seat when his school bus driver passed out on the way to class this morning is being hailed as a "quick thinker" for leading the bus, and 15 other students, to safety.
Seventh grader Jeremy Wuitschick is being praised by the local police chief for his actions when the driver of his school bus started gasping for hair and waving his hands frantically in the air, losing control of the bus.
Wuitschick hopped out of his seat and grabbed the steering wheel, pulling the bus over to the side of the road before pulling the keys from the ignition, Milton Police Chief Bill Rhodes said today.
"I'll tell you, I'll give the kid credit for fast thinking. He did the right thing and we're going to do something for him. The kid definitely deserves credit," Rhodes told ABC News.
Police officers were notified of a school bus driving erratically through town around 8 a.m. today, but by the time a officer arrived at the scene, Wuitschick had it under control. He had pulled the bus over in front of Discovery Primary School, which is adjacent to the school where the students were headed, Surprise Lake Middle School.
"I knew something was wrong," Wuitschick told ABC affiliate KOMO. "It was pretty scary. I was just acting on instinct. It was all happening really quickly."
Jeff Short, assistant superintendant for the Fife school district, said the students had been trained in emergency situations on the school bus, including how to shut down the bus in an emergency.
A staff member at the school, John McCrossin, happened to be driving behind the bus when the driver lost consciousness, and rushed onto the bus to administer CPR once Wuitschick had pulled over to the side of the road, Rhodes said. The kids told McCrossin they had already called 911.
The bus driver, whose name has not been released, was taken to the hospital. Emergency service personnel told school administrators he was suffering from a problem related to the heart. Short said his condition was "grave."
Rhodes said that there were no traffic accidents or other injuries.