On April 26th, 13 year-old seventh grader Dillon Reeves was on the school bus No. 46 taking him, and over sixty (!) other students home from Lois E. Carter Middle School in Warren, Michigan, just outside of Detroit.
Sitting in the fourth row.
He felt the bus ‘swerve’, noticed no other kids had noticed.
Recalled Dillon, "She didn't even have her hands on the steering wheel or the gas pedal. It just didn't seem right."
The driver began to have a medical emergency.
She started to convulse before passing out.
Before she did so, she radioed for help and slowed the bus, attempting to pull over, but didn’t make it in time.
And as she passed out, her legs spasmed which accelerated the bus.
And veered straight into uncoming traffic at an intersection.
Dillon didn’t hesitate, but literally sprang into action.
He turned the wheel right before it hit a car, and gently pumped the air- brakes and when it was slow enough, shifted the transmission into park.
Which he learned how to do by watching the bus driver, who he is friends with, do it.
And then turned to the screaming kids to call 911.
And totally controlled the situation.
Like a boss.
"Honestly, I didn't really drive it. I just took over the steering wheel and stopped it before hitting a car of course because it was really close. If I wasn't there, I just know that It would have just been like a complete disaster."
"I was more worried about the rest of the students on the bus, especially the bus driver."
Half the bus was filming him with their phones, and Dillon ordered them to call.
He got angry when one of the kids told him that he couldn’t call because he was video taping Dillon.
Dillon told them, "If you can film, you can call 911!"
He said later, "It frustrated me so bad. They just needed to be mature and do what's right."
Dillon’s stepmom Ireta, who had left work early as a nurse, saw a different bus than the regular one pull up.
And following the bus were a half dozen police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance.
And she didn’t see Dillon get off the bus. "I was shaking," she said.
She called home to ask Dillon’s father Steve if Dillon was there.
"I said, 'Something's wrong. There's an accident up here. Something bad happened. There's police everywhere, something's wrong.'"
Another call came through on Steve’s work phone.
It was the police, telling him that it was about Dillon.
No, he’s fine. No, he’s not in trouble.
"Your son's a hero."
At the same time, Ireta saw Dillon and the principal. Said Ireta, "I gave him a giant hug. I squeezed him so tight.
The principal came up and was like, 'Do you know what he did? He stopped the bus from getting in an accident. He saved everybody!'"
A dozen kids indeed called emergency services.
Surprising that there wasn’t more calls.
Because every single student on the bus, except for Dillon, was on their phone… playing games, listening to music, surfing the net.
Everyone was totally distracted and had zero situational awareness.
Except for Dillon.
And that was purposeful.
Said Steve, “My son does not have a cell phone.
What are you going to do when you don’t have a phone. You’re going to look at people, you’re going to notice stuff, you’re going to look out the window. It’s a very powerful lesson. It’s a change the world kind of lesson, I don’t know.”
When asked if it was unfair not to have a cell phone. Dillon responded, 'Whatever. My parents are old school.'
Dillon was presented with a certificate by School District Superintendent Robert D. Livernois in a special ceremony.
"To Dillon Reeves, in recognition of your quick thinking and bravery.
He was given the ‘key-to-the city’ in another ceremony.
Said Mayor Jim Fouts, “He stands as a symbol of what we hope all people will be, and I think you’re gonna be an inspiration for all young people, and maybe old people as well, like me.
When you do the right thing, a lot of good things come to you, and as a result of that, congratulations. The future is yours.”
The police chief also informed him that on one day soon yet to be determined, he will be appointed Warren Police Commissioner for a day.
The best though was from his friend the bus driver, who he has stayed in contact with.
She is home, but will be out for at least six months before being able to return to work.
She sent a text message to Ireta and Steve, which said in part... "I'm so thankful Dillon was on the bus that day.
His swift actions saved lives and property and he deserves all the attention for his bravery. He was asking a few months back about being a bus driver, how old did you have to be and if it was hard. He thought he might want to be a bus driver one day. It's a great job. I love it. But I hope Dillon can see his potential to be so much more."
Said Dillon with a smile, "She said that she's proud of me.
We have to watch out for each other.”
As such, A GoFundMe page has been created to help with her recovery.
Find it here.
She cares for each of the students on her bus as if they were her own. In addition to the care she shows her students, she is also a devoted mom of three young children, ages 8, 7, and 4.
At this time, she wishes to keep her name out of the media to protect her privacy while recovering from what doctors believe may have been a seizure. This bus driver will receive only 60% of her pay, and even that will end on June 15th, when her income will be reduced to $0.
It’s a crying shame that one has to live on the goodness of others, rather than being the responsibility of the system which is completely out of whack, but there it is.
Until those changes that we demand and deserve come to pass, like Dillon, we have to keep an extra watchful eye on each other.
Before some decide to come down on this generations lack of awareness and being glued to their phone…. hasn’t it’s always been this way, to a degree?
Are we not glued a little too much on our devices, our phones, our computers?
Or am I merely projecting?
If you recognize yourself just a little bit in Jackie… then I feel you. ;-)