WISD bus driver recognized for actions during tornado warning

Photo by Dave A. Vance.
WISD veteran bus driver Artelia Thomas (left) was recognized during the Monday, June 8, 2015 school board meeting by Ryder Appleton (right) for quick decisions during a tornado warning on May 19.

WAXAHACHIE — Veteran Waxahachie ISD (WISD) bus driver Artelia Thomas took quick action on May 19 to protect children riding on her bus when she witnessed a funnel cloud near Reagor Springs.

Ryder Appleton, WISD Executive Director of Support Services, recognized Thomas during Monday evening's WISD Board of Trustees meeting for her quick decisions and focus on the safety of children.

"On the afternoon of May 19 a tornado warning was issued at approximately 3:30 p.m. in the area of Reagor Springs. At that time bus No. 59, driven by veteran driver Artelia Thomas, was in that area and she called and notified dispatch that she observed a funnel cloud and was going to evacuate the bus in order for the children to take cover away from the bus in a low-lying area as recommended by transportation safety professionals and by the Texas Department of Public Safety," Appleton said.

"Ms. Thomas monitored the situation, notified dispatched after danger had passed. Emergency responders in the area arrived at her location and, along with WISD officials, agreed that it was safe to load the children back on the bus and resume her route. Ms. Thomas remained calm and acted in a very professional manner."

Appleton read a heartfelt statement submitted by a parent who had two children on Thomas' bus.

"Both of my babies were on the bus while the tornado was near. I was so worried that I did not know where they were at. The bus driver got the children off the bus, hunkered down and helped them be calm. Thank ya'll for taking care of my babies while there was nothing I could do to protect them," Appleton read.

Appleton concluded his recognition of Thomas by telling the school board this incident was just one example of Thomas' outstanding work ethic.

"This is but one example of how Ms. Thomas goes over and above on a daily basis transporting our most precious cargo," Appleton said.