Feb 19, 2014 12:31 PM by David Randall
Orange Belt Stages on Tuesday identified the driver of an Amtrak bus who died behind the wheel last Friday as Gordon Chadwick. The California Highway Patrol previously reported the driver was a 42-year old man from Los Osos.
Authorities said Chadwick died of an apparent heart attack while driving northbound on Highway 101 through Santa Maria, California.
Two passengers were able to take control of the bus and pull it to the side of the Santa Maria River Bridge.
Officials with the CHP and the Santa Maria Fire Department said the heroic actions by those passengers saved countless lives that day, but many of the passengers are still feeling the effects of that traumatic incident.
Beth Houston was one of the last people to board that Amtrak bus in Santa Maria last Friday. She said the driver seemed in good health when she boarded the bus, but within ten minutes, she said she felt a hard bump. What she thought might be a flat tire turned out to be much worse.
The driver was suffering a heart attack. Houston said she was confused and scared when it happened because she could not hear what was going on. Within seconds she was thrown from her seat.
The 911 call from that incident goes on to describe the chaos of the following moments:
Dispatcher: 911 emergency, what are you reporting?
Passenger: We're on a bus on our way to Hanford and our driver passed out.
Dispatcher: Ok, take a deep breath, where are you?
Dispatcher: Is your driver conscious or is he still passed out?
Passenger: He's wheezing.
Dispatcher: What lane are you in?
Passenger: We turned onto the third lane on the corner.
Dispatcher: Are you in the slow lane?
Passenger: We're on the right side.
Dispatcher: And you're stopped?
Passenger: Yes, we're stopped. A girl stopped the bus for us.
Houston said she's still very emotional, even finding herself crying over the last few days when she thinks about that moment, but she wants to thank the women who saved her life and express her sadness for the driver who passed away in her arms.
At this point, the names of the two women who stopped the bus have not been released. The Santa Maria Fire Department says it is trying to track down the two women so they can be recognized for their heroic actions.