“We want to recognize (Banks) for doing the right thing and that’s driving defensively,” said Mark Lindstrum, the district’s director of transportation. “She couldn’t stop the bus in time but she stopped the bus in the nick of time, so that it was not a greater accident. The young man (in the passenger car) could have been killed.”
According to the Marietta Police report, Bhavani Saride, 36, of Smyrna was traveling northbound in her gray 2001 Acura on North Marietta Parkway while Banks was traveling south on North Marietta Parkway when the crash occurred.
Saride turned left onto Polk Street in front of the school bus just before 7:15 a.m. on Oct. 26 and was hit on the passenger side of her car.
She has been cited for failure to yield.
Banks and 13 students on the bus, which was bound for Marietta High School, were taken by ambulance and another bus to WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta and Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta with minor injuries, Lindstrum said.
There were 37 students in all on the bus at the time of the crash.
Saride’s 12-year-old son was airlifted to Scottish Rite Hospital with “some fractured bones and internal bruising, but no head injury,” Marietta Police Officer David Baldwin said previously. “He was released (Oct. 28).”
Baldwin said the child is a student at Marietta Middle. His name is not being released because he is a minor.
Saride did not return phone calls for a comment about the accident.
Lindstrum said that if 57-year-old Banks, who has nearly 20 years of experience driving a school bus, hadn’t been paying attention while traveling through the intersection or was distracted by students, the crash could have been much worse.
“A car usually doesn’t win against a school bus,” he said. “The kids were doing the right thing and the bus driver was paying attention to the road, which is critical.”
He also said her action to “cover the brakes” while driving through an intersection was something that kept the incident from being more critical.
“She went through that very busy intersection, took her foot off the gas and covered the brake … she was able to apply the brake a lot faster,” Lindstrum said. “That’s something you may only know to do as a veteran driver.”
Banks returned to driving on Wednesday.
“She is on the road getting back in the saddle … doing well and back on her route,” he said.