Heroic Actions by LG Students Avoid Bus Tragedy

A pair of La Grange ISD students averted what could have been a tragedy last Thursday afternoon, Feb. 1, when the driver of their school bus suffered a medical emergency behind the wheel on SH 71.

Karson Vega, a seventh grader at La Grange Middle School, jumped on the driver’s lap and steered the bus safely to a stop when he realized the driver was no longer able to keep control. Kyler Buzek, a sophomore at La Grange High School, protected the five other young students in the back of the bus while calling authorities on his cell phone.

According to La Grange Superintendent Bill Wagner, the episode ended about 5 p.m. on SH 71 bypass near the Colorado River Bridge. Wagner said the bus was near the end of its route with seven students onboard when the bus began driving erratically.

“One of our drivers had a medical emergency that had to be immediately addressed,” Wagner said. 

Student Karson Vega steered the school bus to a safe stop on the Highway 71 bypass bridge after the driver had a medical emergency. Behind the bus are several law enforcement vehicles, who responded after a 911 call from bus rider Kyler Buzek. Photo by John Castaneda
Student Karson Vega steered the school bus to a safe stop on the Highway 71 bypass bridge after the driver had a medical emergency. Behind the bus are several law enforcement vehicles, who responded after a 911 call from bus rider Kyler Buzek. Photo by John Castaneda  

“Two students on bus helped in a very mature way and responded appropriately to help get the bus to a stop.”

The Record spoke with Karson and his mom, Amber Vega, after school on Friday, Feb. 2.

Karson said he first noticed the erratic driving near Kirtley. He said the driver failed to drop off a student and kept making circles on 71 trying to find the drop-off spot. Then the driver missed the turn to Vega’s house on Makinson Road.

“He started swerving, missed a turn and went into ditch,” Karson said. “I asked him what he was doing and he said he needed to go to the store. I said, ‘No, you need to take us home.’” 

Karson and Buzek gathered all of the younger students in the back of the bus. The two teenagers planned how they would brace and protect the younger children in case of an accident. Buzek was able to reach police on his cell phone as the bus passed Old World Antieks. 

“He almost hit a few cars, and at that big bridge by McDonalds, he almost went off the side,” Karson said. “That’s when I jerked the wheel and took the seat.”

Vega said she allows Karson to drive around their property on Makinson Road.

“Even though he doesn’t have his driver’s license yet, he knows how to operate a vehicle,” Vega said.

Vega said Karson doesn’t normally ride the bus, but last Thursday she couldn’t make it to school to pick him up, so she told him to ride the bus.

“He wasn’t real happy about it, but I think he was on that bus for a reason,” she said.

Karson kept the bus on the road and brought it to a stop near the Colorado River Bridge. Police showed up about the time Karson got the bus stopped. Karson put the bus in park and even extended the stop arm before handing the keys to a police officer.

“He has an obsession with anything with a motor,” said Karson’s mom Amber Vega. “He’s always watching YouTube videos about how to take them apart and work on them.”

Karson said he’s looking forward to getting his driver’s license in a few years. He said his family have a nice Dodge pickup truck he wants to drive, but they said he couldn’t have it.

“If I can handle a bus at 95 miles an hour, I can handle that truck,” Karson said. When informed that school buses cannot go that fast, he said, “It was doing something like that.”

“Maybe I need to rethink whether he can have the Dodge,” Vega said.

“It could have been a tragedy if not for the quick thinking of the students who handled the situation appropriately,” Wagner said.

Wagner said an empty bus that was headed back from a route in Plum picked up the seven students and transported them home safely. Fayette County EMS took the bus driver to St. Mark’s Medical Center in La Grange. Wagner said the driver was released from the hospital later Thursday night. Wagner did not disclose details about the medical emergency, citing employee privacy rules.

Asst. Superintendent and school transportation director Neal Miller said the driver will have to be cleared by doctors before he can drive a bus again.

“Any time there’s a medical issue with a driver, not only school busses but anyone with a commercial drivers license, there has to be a full medical clearance,” Miller said.

Wagner said the school board plans to recognize Vega and Buzek at the next school board meeting on Feb. 19.

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