SHALER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — KDKA talked exclusively to a Shaler Area High School student who was trapped on a school bus in rising flood waters along Seavey Road.
The road flooded after the remnants of Hurricane Ida moved across western Pennsylvania on Wednesday. All 41 people, including the 40 students, on the bus were safely rescued.READ MORE: Investigation Begins Into Cause Of Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse While Rebuilding Could Take Nearly 2 Years
“Everyone was screaming,” said senior Paige Klinefelter. “I was trying to tell everybody to calm down. I just kept looking at the water, and I felt it was going to get higher and higher.”
The students were trapped inside the bus for about 15 minutes, but Klinefelter said it felt like forever.
“I looked outside and it was just high water, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what are we going to do?’” she said.
After the bus stalled, the driver called for help. Klinefelter called her father, who is Millvale’s fire chief.
“I said, ‘Dad, we are stuck on a bus and the water keeps rising and I don’t know what to do.’ And he said, ‘I’ll be there,'” Klinefelter said.
In all, four fire departments and two water rescue units responded. Officials first blocked the road from both directions.
“You pull up, you see hands hanging out the window and you are not sure what’s going on,” said Cherry City Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Fire Chief Aaron Skalos.READ MORE: Port Authority Bus Driver Involved In Bridge Collapse Was Supposed To Be Off Work Friday
“It’s nerve-wracking in the beginning,” he added. “But once we were able to make contact with them, understand they were all OK, we were able to quickly get them out.”
Rescued had to stand in waist-deep water while holding a boat up to the back door of the bus to get everyone out.
“It was rising as we were taking the kids out, so it was tenuous for a little bit,” Skalos said.
The students eventually got on another bus and made it to school.
ABC Transit told KDKA that the driver did not drive into the water.
Shaler Police say all the evidence was reviewed by the Allegheny County DA’s Office, and no charges will be filed because the flash flooding couldn’t be avoided by the driver.
“The evidence as a result of all investigations showed that the bus driver had no time to react to the water rushing onto the road and that he did an exemplary job at notifying his dispatcher and helped to calm and evacuate the students,” said police.
“All he said was he didn’t see any water,” Klinefelter said. “I guess he thought he could just keep driving. I didn’t understand that because the water was pretty high.”MORE NEWS: Frick Park Bridge Collapse: 10 People Injured, 4 Sent To Hospital
The school district emailed parents saying it is going to investigate the incident.