The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Editor, Valdez Star 

Bus driver had a seizure while taking students to school last week

No injuries reported after two alert dads secured the scene


No children were injured last week when the driver of a school bus had a seizure while driving down Copper St.

Brandon Kilian and Clay Strickland - both dads who had just put their daughters on the bus - killed the engine on the bus, calmed the worried students and tended to the driver - before emergency responders arrived on the scene.

The driver, Mark Dickman, age 48, was hospitalized after the incident.

In a press release that was issued a few hours after the incident, which occurred a week ago Tuesday, the City of Valdez and Valdez City Schools said the 911 call was received at approximately 7:53 a.m.

Kilian said Monday he was initially tipped off that something was wrong when he heard what he described as a "horrible moan/scream" that obviously was emanating from the bus.

"Clay said he saw Mark slumped over the wheel as it rolled away from our houses," Kilian said. "I noticed it rolling away with door still open, as I ran out of the house I met Clay running from his house."

The two were able to turn off the engine and engage the emergency brake after the bus came to rest in the front yard of the Thomas Tapp household.

"Clay tended to mark, I kept the children calm and in their seats until EMS arrived," Kilian said. "Once there, we assisted in removing Mark from the bus and keeping the kids safe."

The city and school district said there were 25 students on board the bus at the time of the incident.

"Valdez School District administration released a “One Call Now” notification to school district parents with contact information on file. School staff attempted individual notifications to parents and guardians of all students involved," the joint press release said. "The guidance counselor from Hermon Hutchens Elementary School also met with students to provide post-incident support."

School buses in Valdez are run under a contract with First Student and drivers are employees of the company, not the school district.

"A preliminary investigation indicates the bus was traveling at a low rate of speed at the time of the incident, having just departed a school bus stop when it rolled into the yard," the press release said. "Valdez School District administration is currently working with First Student to review established safety protocols for school bus operations."


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