These things happen in the movies all the time. A group of passengers on a charter bus in the mountains... driver has a heart attack and dies... passengers go careening off into a ravine. Well, guess what, folks. It happens in real life too.
Turns out that my former boss at Dialog, plus several other executives that I have worked with over the years, were being shuttled from the conference center in San Diego where the international sales conference was being held, to a nearby Spa for an outing of some sort. Suddenly, the driver died (they think it was a heart attack, but I haven't heard confirmation of that) sending the bus off the road and down into a ravine. My boss jumped immediately into action, took the wheel, and managed to steer the bus until it stopped safely, keeping it upright and keeping injuries to a minimum. Apparently, the worst injury among the fifty passengers was a broken bone. The only death was the driver, and that was before the accident.
The full story, sketchy as it is even here, is on a local tv station's website. I'm hoping to have lunch with John (the hero of the story) in the next couple of weeks and will ask for the nasty, scary details. But in the meantime, isn't it fantastic to know that there really are people out there who will jump to action?
On a side note, I find heroism very interesting. In this case, I would not argue at all that John deserves the "hero" title. He truly saved 50 lives. However, when you look more carefully at the situation, he really became a hero because of his own need for self-preservation. I don't doubt that he cares about the others on the bus (although I know for a fact he doesn't like all of them), but I'm sure that the reason he jumped up... the reason the adrenaline started flowing... was all about him. With a wife and two young daughters at home, he is the breadwinner of the family. I know when he realized what was happening, his first thought, no matter how fleeting, was not for the other 49 passengers, but it was for himself. So sometimes, heroism isn't completely selfless. It isn't only the fireman rushing into the burning building or the lifeguard swimming out into choppy water... it's also the guy who saves others while saving himself.
And I, for one, am glad that he succeeded.