Deer lands in bus driver's lap - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Deer lands in bus driver's lap

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September 23, 2002

Dougherty County- The quick thinking of a South Georgia school bus driver may have saved the lives of dozens of children. On September 11th, Dougherty County bus driver Janice Pinson's mind wasn't on the anniversary of the terrorist attack.

She was focused the 4-year-olds from the Dougherty County pre-school program she was taking to school. "Children are precious to me. I love them all. That's why I drive a bus," said Pinson. The 13-year driver always looks for deer on her bus route. So when she saw one crossing Gillionville Road that morning, she didn't panic.

Pinson was slowing down to turn left on Springfield Road when the deer ran out in front of her. She automatically took her foot of the gas and missed the animal completely. But then, the deer darted into the other lane and was hit by an oncoming vehicle, sending it flying through the air.

"I watched him fly in the air. I thought he was going to fly over the top of my bus. But, he had crashed through the windshield and landed in my lap. I actually had fur in my mouth."

Then, the deer flew back out of the window and slid down the driver's side of the bus, breaking two side windows. "I have a monitor on my bus every day. She told me she would take care of the children who were screaming. That's when I noticed I was bleeding."

Pinson had glass in her eyes and cuts on her face. Two children were also hurt, but just minor scratches. Despite the amazing wreck, the bus never left the road.

"I didn't swerve out of my lane. I was trained to hold onto my wheel and slow the bus down as safely as I could. I just did what I was taught to do," said Pinson.

On Friday, the Dougherty County Pre-K program thanked Pinson with the special award. And, the children were grateful too. "I wasn't scared when the deer hit the bus," said 4-year-old Zonell. "I didn't get hurt."

Just days after the wreck, Pinson was back on her bus route making sure the trip to and from school is a safe one for these children. Both children hurt in the wreck are doing fine, and Pinson is still recovering from back injuries.

In Georgia, deer cause between 60,000-70,000 car wrecks a year. There are approximately 1,000,000 deer in the Georgia. 45% of car/deer wrecks happen during rut, the 60 day deer mating season. Rut begins around November here in Southwest Georgia.

Damages to cars averages about $1,700 per wreck with a deer. That adds up to about $142,000,000 each year.

Posted at 5:35 by kathryn.murchison@walb.com