DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A passenger on board an Xpress Transit bus jumped behind the wheel after the bus driver suddenly
collapsed while driving along I-20 in DeKalb County on Wednesday morning.
Passengers and paramedics tried to revive the driver with CPR but were unsuccessful.
Frederick Huff said he boarded the bus on Panola Road en route to Atlanta, where he works in the finance department in the Fulton County Government Building. He said, initially, passengers believed the driver had fallen asleep.
"One of the passengers in the front, she started screaming, 'Wake up! Wake up!' When I got there, he was in the seat slumped over. His back was against the window. His foot was on the gas and he was proceeding to move," said Huff.
With the help of other passengers, Huff pulled the driver from his seat and climbed behind the wheel of the large bus, which was carrying nearly 40 passengers.
"There was a truck there, an 18-wheeler. The actual bus was going into that lane. I just happened to get into the seat in time to maneuver the bus out of that collision. It could have been a different story," Huff said.
Huff told Channel 2's Tom Regan he put the bus in neutral gear and safely steered it to the side of the highway. Transit officials say the driver, James Atkinson, 52, died at the scene.
The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority expressed sympathy to the driver's family and thanks to those passengers who came to his aid.
"It's Valentine's Day. For the family to get this news -- our prayers are for the family and Xpress Transit and GRTA," Huff said.
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