While much is often said in the media about teachers and administrators, there is another group of school employees that are very important to children’s education and well being. They are the classified personnel that toil behind the scenes.
Among that group are bus drivers.
Chris Nelson was recently honored by the Carbon School District Board of Education for his years of service to the district, dedication and in particular, his ability to handle the big yellow vehicles that transport students. He was nominated for the award by Karlene Bianco, the principal at Lighthouse High School.
“He is an outstanding bus driver, likes the kids and goes out of his way to help them,” Bianco said. “I travel to a lot of girl’s basketball games with the team and he always helps out working on the bench as a scorekeeper and is involved.”
Bianco also said his skills at driving are amazing. Take the afternoon and evening of Dec. 18, 2015 for example.
“We were headed to a game in Park City, and as we got on the onramp on I-15 in Spanish Fork, right in the middle of the road was a huge piece of furniture that apparently had fallen off another vehicle,” she said. “It was one of those kinds of lodge pole furniture that are large and bulky. Somehow Chris was able to avoid it and not hit other cars as he moved around it.”
The surprises and dangers of that day were far from over for those riding in that bus. That night on the way back from the game the bus was headed down Provo Canyon when freezing rain hit, forcing cars, trucks and big rigs off the road. That is when Chris’ driving expertise really came in handy.
“There was a truck coming the opposite direction up the canyon,” Bianco said. “We saw it spin out of control and literally leap over the barrier that divided the highway. It came into our lane and was headed directly toward us. Somehow Chris slowed the bus down without skidding and was able to dodge that truck.”
The truck almost hit one of the parent’s cars traveling with the bus as we;;. In that vehicle one of the occupants was an EMT and she helped give aide to the truck driver while they waited for emergency help to arrive. Meanwhile, the bus pulled over and Nelson helped to direct traffic.
Among the accidents that night in the canyon was a fatality, but Nelson was able to guide the bus safely down to I-15 and up Spanish Fork Canyon to get the team home safely.
Kerry Jensen, the district’s transportation director, said that Nelson is “one of those drivers you wish you had more of.”
“He enjoys working with the kids and works well with everyone,” he said. “He gets requested by people who are scheduling buses quite often.”
Jensen went on to say that he feels lucky to have so many good drivers in the department, with Nelson being one of them.