Barry Sullivan poses by the school bus he drives.

PITTSTOWN — A bus driver at the Brunswick-Brittonkill Central School District is credited with saving the life of a 12-year-old girl through his quick actions.

CSEA member Barry Sullivan was on his afternoon bus run on January 30 and had stopped at the side of State Route 7 to drop the girl off at her regular bus stop.

“I deployed my reds [red lights], which start to open the door,” said Sullivan. “I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a white van coming.”

The van was moving at a high rate of speed along the right side of the bus.

“I put my arm up so she could not walk down the side of the steps to go out the doors,” said Sullivan. “Instinctively, I don’t remember doing this, but I closed the door.”

The incident, captured on video and later widely reported by local media, shows just how close the girl came to being struck by the out-of-control van. The van swerved past the bus door, and then hit a truck before skidding off the road.

The Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene, interviewed Sullivan and the driver of the truck that was hit.

The 22 year-old van driver was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving and various traffic and vehicle violations and was due in court last month. Calls to the sheriff’s department for an update on the case were not returned by press time.

Close call
As someone trained in safety and responsible for kids, Sullivan said he is frustrated by the driving public who seem to either not understand or not care about the laws.

Sullivan drives more than 140 miles per day and is constantly on the lookout for careless drivers.

“That same morning, I had two people run my reds,” said Sullivan. “Kids are at risk. People need to be safer, use caution, take the time and watch the lights. That’s what they’re put on for. Stop! If the yellow [light]is on, it doesn’t mean speed up to get by them.”

Sullivan noted that the recent incident wasn’t the girl’s first close call with a driver. Six years ago, at the same stop, the girl was running to her father after stepping off the bus and almost got hit when a car whipped by.

Sullivan said he does not see the addition of bus cameras as a huge deterrent. Sullivan points out that although drivers who pass stopped buses are mailed tickets, they do not get points on their license.

“There’s got to be stricter punishment,” said Sullivan.“I don’t think enough is being done at the start of driver training. Some people are not even aware of the laws.”

As a driver, Sullivan shows a strong dedication to the students.

“They’re not my kids, but they technically are my kids and I don’t want them hurt,” said Sullivan. “I am the first person they see in the morning and the last person they see at the end of their day. I miss them when they’re not there. I make sure to check in on them. They become a family.”

— Therese Assalian

See the dramatic video

See the breaking news report by WNYT Newschannel 13, as well as a dramatic surveillance video of the van narrowly missing the school bus that CSEA member Barry Sullivan was driving. Viewers can see Sullivan quickly closing the bus door just before the van passed and the aftermath of the van passing the bus. Screenshot is from the video.



About Author

Therese has been working as the Capital Region Communications Specialist since 2002 handling all facets of internal and external communications for the region. Therese started her career at a Madison Avenue Public Relations firm and held several positions in public relations, marketing and event planning in corporate and non-profit roles in New York and Pittsburgh prior to moving to the Capital Region in 1999. Therese holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Communication Studies and is also a published freelance writer on travel, food and the arts.

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