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Grayslake Bus Driver Saves Woodview Parent's Life

"That little girl's got her dad still," said Stephanie McClellan.

Grayslake resident Stephanie McClellan poses with her children. McClellan, a bus driver, saved a man's life Dec. 9. Photo credit: Stephanie McClellan
Grayslake resident Stephanie McClellan poses with her children. McClellan, a bus driver, saved a man's life Dec. 9. Photo credit: Stephanie McClellan
As a bus driver, it's important for Stephanie McClellan to know her students'—and parents'—routines.

The Grayslake resident remembers the mom who is often racing to the bus, or the brothers who sometimes run late. She never imagined, though, that knowing those routines would result in her saving a life.

When she pulled up to a Woodview School first-grader's home Dec. 9 to drop her off at the end of the day and the girl's dad wasn't there waiting, McClellan got a little worried. 

The girl's father is always out there, talking to everyone in the neighborhood, McClellan said. But on this day, the man wasn't there, even though his truck was in the driveway and the home's side door was open. Her gut instinct told her something was amiss. 

"I couldn't let her off the bus until I saw her dad," said McClellan. Since she has to drop off other children in that neighborhood, McClellan continued on her route and then drove back to the girl's house. 

"I radio'd base (at Durham Bus Company) and said this was my second time bringing her and said I'd finish my route and come back," said McClellan. 

She performed her required bus check to make sure there weren't any other students left on her bus and then returned to the Woodview first-grader's home. Her father was still not waiting outside.

Trusting Her Gut Instinct

McClellan and the girl walked up to the back door. McClellan could see through the storm door that the girl's father was laying on the kitchen floor. His legs were twitching.

When they walked into the house, McClellan asked the girl to take her dogs and go to the den. She then approached the man, who appeared to be having a seizure. She tried talking to the man. 

"He couldn't sit up, and he couldn't control his arms," she said. By this time, Durham Bus Company had contacted Woodview School, and the man's wife had been called. She ultimately called home and got McClellan on the phone. McClellan explained that she was going to call 911. 

"I gave them all of the information," said McClellan. "His face and lips were blue, and he had labored breathing."

The lessons she'd learned through Durham's monthly safety meetings—including the information she'd heard about seizures—came flooding back. 

"We learned not to put anything in the person's mouth or hold them down, and just to make sure they didn't hit anything," said McClellan. When she saw that the man appeared to be swallowing his tongue, McClellan laid him on his back. He then started having another seizure, so McClellan laid him back on his side, and moved him over slightly so his arms wouldn't hit the island in the kitchen.

She stayed there until paramedics arrived, and then locked up the house when everyone left.

"Guardian Angel"

The man's wife, McClellan said, told her, "You're his guardian angel." The man was asleep for a full day, McClellan said, and is still in intensive care.

Sharon Sandri, transportation coordinator for Community Consolidated School District 46, said McClellan "went above and beyond what she needed to do."

McClellan is just glad that she trusted her gut. She recommends that others, including fellow bus drivers, stay observant and know their surroundings. 

"I feel good knowing that I was able to help in a really bad situation like that. It was good to just be there," said McClellan. "That little girl's got her dad still."
Pete Mule December 13, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Very nice job, Ms. McClellan...........and good story
Victoria Heskin Sears December 13, 2013 at 02:11 PM
I am so incredibly proud of you Stephanie, but not at all surprised. You are a wonderful woman, an awesome mom, friend, etc. Way to go!
peggie larkins December 14, 2013 at 07:57 AM
thank you so much for saving our father, i know my little sister still really needs him in her life she still so young and it would of been very heart breaking if we would of lost him. he also has 3young grandchildren to be around for. so thank you from the bottom of my heart to mrs. McClellan you one hell of a bus driver, thank you
Sherry Hoster December 14, 2013 at 09:34 AM
I all can say is THANK YOU. People like you who care are what makes the world a better place. You are a true hero.
Thomas Mckay December 14, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Just wanted to say good job, well done. We normally wish all of us can use our intuition to something that caring. Feels great to know a fellow driver can do something that great for someone
Carolyn Brack-Jackson December 14, 2013 at 08:31 PM
You rock, Stephanie! Keep doing what you do! Like the saying "there are no small parts, only small actors"you are a big actor on this stage we call life! You have elevated your work! For all times that you've felt unappreciated, maybe underpaid, maybe overwhelmed or misunderstood, as one human being to another, I commend you!
Logans Runner December 15, 2013 at 08:36 PM
What city or state did this happen in? I'm so glad everything ended well.
Pete Mule December 15, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Woodview School is in Grayslake
John Mondy December 16, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Who knew guardian angels drove schoolbusses?
Marnie Morgan Shepherd December 17, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Too bad she didn't report the dad missing her 1st go around! Yeah what she did was great but in the meantime while she dropped off all the other kids he could have died.
Donna R Oberg December 18, 2013 at 09:46 AM
Marnie, way to be a negative nelly.
mattlisa7 December 18, 2013 at 05:39 PM
I'm not a bus driver, but I do believe the policy is, if the parent isn't there the second time they drive by, they drop the child back off at school. The bus drivers are not required to go the door of the child's house. So, hat's off to you, Stephanie, for going above and beyond!
David Marsters December 19, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Great job Stephanie. We need more observant people in this world.
Kristine Snider December 20, 2013 at 10:35 AM
Stephanie is nothing short of a hero. Thank you, Stephanie, for what you did. I wish more people were like you. And Marnie, shame on you for your insensitive comment.
bernie December 22, 2013 at 09:45 AM
Marnie you must of lived in CT
Tim F January 01, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Great story about a wonderful woman. May God (politically incorrect word) Bless You.

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