NORWALK, Conn. – A school bus driver was praised Thursday by state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for taking action to avoid what could have been a tragedy when the bus he was driving broke down on a railroad crossing.
Victor Monte, whose bus stalled crossing the tracks on Broad Street about 50 yards from North Main Avenue, “swiftly and successfully evacuated all 40 elementary school students on board his bus” when he broke down about 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to a press release issued by Duff’s office.
Duff and Malloy also praised the efforts of Melissa Acevado her 13-year-old son, Corey, passers-by who assisted Monte in escorting students from the bus.
“A school bus stuck on the train tracks is a true nightmare, but we were very fortunate yesterday to have a cool-headed bus driver in charge of those 40 students, who promptly led them off the bus to a safe location,” Duff said in the release. “I congratulate and thank Victor Monte for his quick thinking and swift reaction.
“Melissa Acevado and her son Corey are also to be commended for their assistance yesterday, as are the staff of Metro-North and the Norwalk police,” Duff continued. “What might have been a tragedy was instead a huge relief, and we are all grateful to those who played a part.”
“The quick efforts of those involved helped ensure the safety of the young students as they were coming home from school,” Malloy said. “Everyone who assisted in protecting the children should be commended, and we’re grateful for their prompt and alert action.”
The bus, loaded with 40 Silvermine elementary school children,stopped before crossing the tracks, then stalled when Monte tried to continue, according to a police report issued Wednesday. Then the warning arms came down to block the tracks, signaling an approaching train.
Monte began an emergency evacuation of the bus, getting all the children to safety as the train approached. The Metro North train managed to stop a mere 10 feet away from the bus, the police release stated.
Why it stalled was not clear.
Police at the scene commended the driver, who was not identified, and the train crew, the release said.
Two students received what are believed to be minor injuries and were treated at the scene by Norwalk EMS, the release said. They were taken to Norwalk Hospital for further evaluation.
Other buses were called to take the students home, and several parents showed up to pick up their children.
The bus was operated by First Student Inc., which provides bus service for Norwalk Public Schools.