Passenger saves Ontario Northland bus after driver passes out at the wheel on Highway 401

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A quick-thinking passenger on an Ontario Northland bus is being credited with saving dozens of people after its driver passed out at the wheel while on Highway 401.

Passengers told CBC that the bus, which was headed from Sudbury, Ont., to Toronto, was travelling east near Keele Street on Highway 401 on Thursday when the driver slumped over the wheel.

“There was a bit of a commotion at the front and then someone turned around and yelled, ‘Can anyone drive a bus?'” said passenger Laurie Gennings. “And at that point we all kind of panicked because the bus was still moving.”

The vehicle was merging into traffic when a woman took charge of the situation, she said.

“She got up and actually took the wheel and sort of edged us over and managed to stop the bus,” Gennings said.

OPP Const. Robert Knight said the bus was not moving very fast when it was safely navigated to the right shoulder of Highway 401’s eastbound lane.

“It could’ve been a lot worse if that woman hadn’t stepped in when she did,” he said. “All of those people on that bus should thank her.”

Gennings wants to do just that.

“I didn’t get to greet her and tell her thank you after the incident but if she’s out there and she sees this — thank you very much,” he said.

Paramedics say the driver of the bus, a male in his 60s, was in non-life-threatening condition. He was taken to Humber River Hospital for a medical evaluation.

Ontario Northland spokesperson Renee Baker said another operator was sent to the scene to complete the journey.

The bus company is conducting a full investigation into the incident.

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