It is said that a life can change in one second. For Garland ISD bus driver Juanita Carol Wells and Austin Academy for Excellence student Moriah Bass, that saying cannot ring more true. The two recently rescued a toddler and woman from drowning, becoming heroes during an unforgettable drive to school.
“It was raining. I picked up my last student on my route in Rowlett and as soon as I turned the corner, a toddler ran in front of my bus,” Wells detailed. “I immediately hit my brakes. It scared everyone.”
Fright quickly turned to concern, as Wells and the students did not see a guardian with the T-shirt and diaper-clad child.
“As soon as I saw the child, I was on my radio with GISD Transportation. I told them I did not see a parent and thought he was going to be hit by a car,” she stated. “All of a sudden, the toddler ran toward a pond and about that time, I saw a lady walk up beside my bus. She seemed panicked.”
Like her peers, Bass was on the edge of her seat watching the scene unfold. Once the eighth-grader saw the toddler and woman going under in the pond, she took charge, asked her classmates to call 911 and told Wells they needed to get off the bus.
“I thought, ‘Oh no. Somebody has got to do something,’” Bass said. “What if that was my parent in the water? I would want somebody to help. I was in the moment. My adrenaline was really pumping.”
With the help of a fellow student’s crutch, Wells and Bass managed to pull the woman and child out of the water. Rain, mud and a language barrier could not stop the determined duo.
“I could have not done it without Moriah. God put her there to help,” Wells expressed. “Her determination is what saved those people.”
After the rescue, a good Samaritan stopped to offer assistance. Because Wells’ No. 1 priority is getting students to school safely and on time, neither she nor Bass were able to stay when the police arrived. Both good-doers wish they would have noted the child’s and woman’s names, but take solace in knowing they were in the right place at the right time.
“I believe God put us there for a reason. It just all worked out. I am blessed,” Wells said.
“Sometimes you are scared to do something, but you can always do it,” Bass added. “I learned to always help people. Even when people are in danger, anybody can help.”
Since the heroic act, Wells and Bass have received interest in their story. See WFAA’s news piece highlighting the good deed.