MADISON TWP., Ohio -- Although she doesn't feel like a hero, the school bus driver many believe saved the lives of two young girls returned to work Monday in Madison Township.
Mary Wooldridge was driving along her regular bus route on Thursday, Jan. 30, when she almost encountered a nightmare.
She was unloading two students when a pickup truck was traveling in the opposite direction and smashed into a car parked in front of the school bus. The impact sent the car into the front of the school bus, and missed the two girls by only a matter of seconds.
"I saw the truck coming over the top of the hill and knew he wasn't going to be able to stop," Wooldridge told WCPO's Jay Warren. "The girls, I already had eye contact with the girls and I yelled for them to run and signaled them to run back to the side of the road where they were."
"Leah, the youngest one, hesitated just for a minute. I said, 'run, Leah!' and she took off and it was just split seconds," Wooldridge said.
Leah was hit with piece of debris from the crash, but suffered no major injuries.
Wooldridge wasn't certain, but said Leah could have been killed in the crash if she had hesitated more than that split second.
The heroic bus driver refused to say she's a hero, but the school district and anyone that was there when the crash happened said Wooldridge saved the lives of 6-year-old Leah and her 9-year-old sister Zayden. Their father watched the entire accident from start to finish.
"She didn't even have time to protect herself from the car, so she was more worried about the kids then she was herself," Russell Thompson said.
Wooldridge suffered minor injuries and went to a local hospital late Thursday night to be treated for stiffness in her back and neck, according to AJ Huff, coordinator of school-community relations for Madison Local Schools. She was released shortly after, and took a few days to get back on her feet.
On February 10, the district plans to honor Wooldridge for her heroic actions, along with a representative from the state.
"No I don't feel like a hero. Bus drivers go through a lot of training for safety," Wooldridge said. "They preach safety to us every day, and it's all about getting our kids home and to school safety, and it's part of instinct. It's just what you do."