A bus driver’s life and two heroes were celebrated at Monday night’s Orange City School District Board Meeting.
The reason dates back to April 22nd, the day of the annual School Bus Safety Road-E-O, when things started out like every other year as the state-title winning Orange City School bus drivers gathered at the transportation department to gear up for this year’s big event.
Two of the drivers, Shannon Gross and Bernadette Marason, were preparing to leave for the competition when another driver, Orange High School alumnus Joe Krozser, walked in. Krozser was shaking, sweating profusely and very pale, according to Gross. He told Gross and Marason that he was going to head back home, but Gross asked if he was having any pains or any other symptoms. When Krozser told her that he was experiencing "muscle pain" as it was described in his upper left arm, she immediately recognized the signs of a potential heart attack. Gross and Marason called 911, located and administered an aspirin and waited with the Krozser until the ambulance arrived and he was taken to the hospital.
It was later learned Krozser was, in fact, suffering a heart attack and was immediately taken into surgery. Ambulance and hospital workers said that the quick thinking and action by Gross and Marason saved the driver's life. They were recognized at the Board meeting for their heroic efforts alongside Krozser who was in good spirits, healthy, and happy to be there.
“This could have happened to anybody….if it weren’t for these guys, I just can’t say,” recalled Krozser through his tears. “I’m…so happy.”
In an official proclamation declaring May 22, 2017 "Shannon Gross Day" and "Bernadette Marason Day" in Moreland Hills, Mayor Susan Renda recognized these Orange bus drivers for showing “outstanding dedication to public service, commitment to the community, and the betterment of our schools.”
State Senator Kenny Yuko was on hand to commend the drivers, also presenting them with proclamations signed by State Senators Yuko, Larry Obhof and Matt Dolan.
“What we have here tonight is a perfect example of when two human beings show compassion, caring, and love toward a fellow worker, recognizing that something wasn’t right but more importantly doing something about it….this is a testament to everyone involved,” said Senator Yuko. “With the caring and giving nature that you have shown us tonight as part of our community, for our community, for our children, what a tremendous lesson you taught them.”
Both Gross and Marason have been among the top drivers not only at the Regional Road-E-O but at the State level competition in previous years. Unfortunately, they didn't even have the option to move on to the state competition this year (on May 6th) as they were focused on the well-being of a colleague that morning instead of preparing at the Regional competition. If asked about it though, they will smile and say that the driver's good health and life are the most valuable prize they could have possibly won that day.
Orange Schools drivers have been on the winning team at the state level for 12 out of the last 14 years. This year Gross’ and Marason’s Orange Schools colleagues took home the top prize out of a field of more than 100 drivers, as well as the "Spirit Award" for their baseball/safety on the road theme. The Orange City School District is proud of bus drivers Chuck SantaMaria, Debbie Burns, Teresa Jaszczak and Debbie Becker who ranked high enough at regionals to compete at the State level….and then brought home a first place trophy with the North Region Team from the State competition.
Every spring the Ohio Department of Education holds its regional and state-level School Bus Driver Safety Road-E-O, a competition designed to advance and showcase area drivers demonstrating their skills and knowledge of laws and safety issues. The Road-E-O is sponsored by the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation, Ohio Department of Education Transportation Section, Ohio Education Association, and Ohio School Bus Mechanics Association.
“We are proud of all of our drivers. They keep our most precious commodity, our students, safe every single day. They are the first person they see in the morning and the last individual they see at the end of the school day so they have a tremendous impact on our children,” said Superintendent Dr. Edwin Holland. “By being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing to save a colleague's life, without a moment's hesitation, Gross and Marason exemplified that "spirit" of all of our drivers.”