CLEVELAND — The 11-year-old boy who steered a runaway school bus to safety said Wednesday he did it because he saw a truck coming at them and because his brother also was on the bus.
David Murphy said he worried afterward that he might get in trouble for jumping into the driver's seat, but he said police and fire officials reassured him that he did the right thing, and so did his classmates.
"Some of them said I saved their life," David said in a phone interview.
David was among 27 students headed to Arts Academy Community School West — a charter school — on Monday when the driver stopped at a service station, pumped about $40 of fuel and went into the rest room while the bus engine idled. In his absence, the bus began rolling down a side street that swoops through an industrial area and was on a collision course with an oncoming tractor-trailer rig.
David said he looked up and saw the truck approaching.
"I hurried up and turned the wheel so I could get out of the truck's way," David said.
After dodging the truck he aimed the bus for the last pillar on a bridge to avoid going farther down the steep hill. "There was nothing good down there," he said.
David said one of the reasons he jumped into the driver's seat was because his 12-year-old brother Patrick was on board.
Patrick said he was about to jump off the bus but stayed because he saw his brother steering.
"Yeah, he's a hero," Patrick said.
Some children did jump from the bus as it rolled about 300 feet. Fifteen were checked at hospitals but none had any severe injuries.
David's mother, Patricia Murphy, said he told her that God made him do it.
"He didn't even have time to think. He's amazing," she said.
"I'm so proud of him. He's my hero," Patricia Murphy said in the telephone interview.
It's not clear why the bus rolled away from the station, police Lt. Thomas Stacho said. Investigators did not find any mechanical problems and a gas station employee watching the bus said none of the children appeared to tamper with anything, he said.
Highway Patrol Sgt. Craig Cvetan said the state inspected a bus believed to be the one involved in the crash as recently as last August, and no safety violations were noted.
The driver, Michael Weir, 57, will be cited for leaving a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition and for registration violations, police spokesman Thomas Stacho said Tuesday.
Weir has a valid commercial driver's license but wasn't registered with the state as required, police said. His license was suspended for six months in 2006 and was reissued July 16.