Bus driver hailed a hero after avoiding crash in wild storm
A SCHOOL bus driver has been praised as a "hero" after he avoided a "catastrophic crash" on Wednesday afternoon.
It was in the middle of the wild afternoon weather when Stewart and Sons bus driver Phil Old had just left Elliott Heads State School with about 25 students on board.
School principal Nichola Lister said the rain was pelleting down and the wind was howling when the bus came to collect the children.
"Phil pulled in nice and close to the school so the children wouldn't get wet as they got on the bus," Ms Lister said.
"It really was wild weather - it was an incredible storm, the worst I've seen in my time here at Elliott Heads."
The bus then travelled along Elliott Heads Rd toward Moore St, when the wind picked up to an unbelievable strength.
The force of the wild weather is said to have pushed the bus off the road as it was taking the corner at Moore St.
There have been a number of crashes at the corner of Elliott Heads Rd and Moore St.
In 2016 a resident recalled the moment a car flipped after taking out his fence at the intersection.
A Queensland Fire and Emergency spokesman said when the call came in on Wednesday, they feared the worst.
He said the intersection was known for near-misses.
"It could have been catastrophic if the bus driver didn't take control like he did," he said.
The bus driver missed the power pole as the bus slid out and he was able to stop the bus without flipping it.
"He just held the wheel and kept the children safe," Ms Lister said.
Stewart and Sons owner Julie Stewart praised her long-term employee labelling him a hero.
"It was an amazing show of skill, which he gathered through the years of driving trucks and buses around Australia," Mrs Stewart said.
"He was only doing about 30-40km/hour.
"There was really heavy rain and water on the road, but you couldn't see the water.
"He focused on the children's safety and his little passengers have always been his number one priority."
Two children were transported to hospital with minor injuries after the incident on Wednesday.
Since the incident Mr Old has decided to take time off and spend more time with his family.
"We thank him very much for everything and he will be missed very much," Mrs Stewart said.