Knoxville — The Knoxville School Board met in regular session Monday night, with the action items on the agenda taking a back seat to some inspirational words from a retiring bus driver.
Toni Pitt was driving the school bus, south of Knoxville, when the driver of a Prius ran a stop sign and struck the bus on Jan. 30, 2012. She was in attendance at Monday's meeting with attorney, Jim Hicks. KHS alumni Nile Hicks and Don Beatty represented Pitt in litigation regarding the crash. The cases are over, which allows Hicks and Pitt to speak freely about the crash, including how Pitt's actions may have saved lives.
"Toni is a really, a true hero," Hicks said. "We can be proud of her and what she did."
On the day of the accident, Pitt could see the other vehicle fail to stop and knew a crash was imminent. She increased the speed of the bus try to ensure that the vehicle would not hit the gas tank. A law enforcement officer once told Hicks that had Pitt not done this, and the vehicle had struck the tank, the four people in the car would have been killed. The bus could have become an inferno. Instead, the vehicle hit the back of the bus and only Pitt suffered major injuries.
The board then allowed Pitt to read her own prepared piece regarding the incident, and her years as a Knoxville school bus driver.
"I guess most people don't realize that bus drivers, and the little people can touch so many lives," Pitt said. The role of bus drivers includes the duties of "referee," "nurse" and "guidance counselor," among many others.
"I am so truly thankful to the Knoxville Community School District, for giving me the opportunity to touch so many children's lives," Pitt said. Video of her speech can be viewed at http://www.facebook.com/journalexpress.