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Siblings help other students out of sinking bus

By Jade DeGood, jdegood@kwch.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:27:04 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 05 2013 06:31:37 AM CST
BUTLER COUNTY, Kan. -

It was a trip they've made numerous times, but it didn't take long for two siblings to realize this time was different.

“We were coming up to the bridge and we heard a big 'thunk' and then we saw the bus start to turn,” described Claire Hilyard, an 11-year-old on the school bus. "Then we heard a 'crash' and people were crying and screaming."

Her 9-year-old brother was also on board.

"I think I fell asleep, but my eyes were open," said Dalton Hilyard. "When we heard the thud I woke up and I said “what’s going on?”

Claire and Dalton were on their way home from school when the bus crashed into the swollen creek.

My friend Robyn, she yelled at me “Remember the door!” but I didn’t hear her," Claire said.  "I remembered myself to open the door, so I opened it and me and Robyn, we started pulling up kids.”

Her brother jumped out an open window to help.

"I helped her get the emergency exit open and we got out there and we sat up there for two hours," Dalton said.

"Normally people weren’t saying much at first when it happened because they were scared," his sister said. "But once we were all up there the five bigger kids were trying to calm down the little kids because they were getting really scared."

Not only were the 10 kids on board scared, they were also extremely cold.

"The water was up to my knees, so I can’t imagine what it was like for the little kids because the water was probably up to their stomachs," said Claire.

Their Grandma who lives near the bridge saw the bus in the water and called 911.

"The fire department showed up. An ambulance showed up. Another ambulance showed u., The swim squad rescue showed up and they got a boat all aired up," said Dalton. "Got the boat, got the kids all life jackets and put them on. And took them to the boat and got to shore."

All 10 kids, safe because of quick thinking.

"They’ve taught us about fires and if we crash, but we haven’t done a flood," said Claire. "But all I could think about was the emergency door."

"It was scary because me and my sister never had to use the emergency exit just for drills and stuff but never for real," said Dalton.

The community and rescue crew agree, the kids are all heroes and worked together to get to safety and stay calm.

The 911 Director for Butler County said they are ordering special 911 Lifesaver Pins for all of the kids on the bus.

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