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Women called heroes after stopping runaway UTA bus with no driver

Women called heroes after stopping runaway UTA bus with no driver (Photo: KUTV)
Women called heroes after stopping runaway UTA bus with no driver (Photo: KUTV)
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(KUTV) Two women are being called heroes after stopping a runaway UTA bus during rush hour in Salt Lake City.

Kathy Fellows and Rachel Staheli work at the University of Utah and ride the bus to work together every morning. On Friday, while en route on Foothill Drive, the ladies said the bus shut off, so the driver pulled over to check it out.

Utah Transit Authority spokesperson, Remi Barron, said they believe the bus's engine overheated.

“While this is unusual, it’s happened before and the buses are designed to shut down so that the engines don't seize up. The operator did what she was supposed to do. The battery had to be reset to get it started again,” Barron said.

As Fellows and Staheli watched the driver work on the engine, the battery was reset and they saw the door shut and the bus started rolling down foothill.

"As soon as the doors closed Rachel and I looked at each other and said oh this isn't good," Fellows said.

Both ladies said they believe the runaway bus was going about 10 to 15 miles per hour through traffic and with no one at the wheel, the two made a split decision.

"Rachel was on the left so she jumped in the driver’s seat,” Fellows said. While Staheli tried to find the brake pedal, Fellows attempted to open the door for the driver who was outside of the bus pounding on the windows to get in.

Staheli found the brake pedal, and stepped on it, causing multiple passengers in the bus to fly forward on the ground and against their chairs. Some walked away with a few bruises and strained muscles, but there were no major injuries.

“Obviously something like this should never happen we’re very concerned about it. Our passengers’ safety is our top concern. It’s being investigated from top to bottom as far as the operators being interviewed and the bus being checked out,” Barron said.

Fellows and Staheli said after the hectic morning, they filled out an incident report for UTA, but since then no follow up on their conditions or injuries have been made.

“I just thought there was a little bit of lack of compassion for anyone who got hurt. Even though we didn’t have to go to the emergency room,” Fellows said.

“We’re just trying to find out exactly what happened in this case it takes a little bit of time," Barron said. "We have procedures and protocol that have to be followed.

“We take this very seriously, this is just as serious as any other incident on our system but if somebody had been taken to the hospital and somebody had a very serious injury like we mentioned, we would go to the hospital. I mean we would obviously want to know how that person is doing.”

"It could have been catastrophic,” Fellows said. She feels lucky to have a bus partner like Staheli.

"We were clapping for her ... She’s our hero. She did amazing."

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Barron said UTA plans to meet with all the passengers involved in this incident in the coming days.

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