Tia Moll and Landon Enloe accept their Awards of Excellence during the April 14 meeting of the Board of Education. Ms. Moll has been a transportation professional at Perry County School District 32 for 6 years. She was recognized for her professionalism during an accident in which a Freightliner tractor collided with her stopped bus. Landon Enloe is a sixth-grader at Perry County Middle School, who was recognized for providing valuable assistance to his bus driver and fellow students following the accident.
Driver, student commended for actions following crash
It’s a moment Tia Moll will never forget, and one she hopes to never relive: On a wintry afternoon as the veteran bus driver was stopped to allow a student to disembark, she realized with horror that a trailer truck would not be able to stop behind waiting vehicles in the oncoming lane.
Thirteen of “her” kids were on the bus.
Her heart felt like it stopped beating.
“I was stopped on Highway 51 north with my red flashers on and my stop sign open,” Moll recalled. “Traffic had stopped in both directions, and I was just starting to open the doors to release a student to cross the highway to her home.
“I glanced up for one more check and saw a semi braking as it came down the hill in the other lane, but I knew that the truck would never be able to stop in time. Everything seemed to happen at once. I yelled for the student to sit down and for everyone to hold on, and I braced for impact.”
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report, the Freightliner tractor without a trailer started to slow when it saw the stopped traffic but it began to slide. The rear of the Freightliner hit the front of the school bus, then crossed the centerline, ran off the right side of the road and struck a tree.
Moll said that the impact was jarring but even more so were the cries of the students on her bus.
“As soon as it was over, I radioed the district bus base to report the accident and then dialed 911 for help,” she said. “I was actually the third 911 caller to reach the dispatcher, who stayed on the line with me while emergency responders were on their way.
“All of my training just took over,” she said. “I was really very calm during the incident because I just wanted my kids to know they were safe and it was going to be OK. I moved from seat to seat checking for injuries and letting them know that the worst was over and our help would be there soon. Most of them were crying and confused because it was the first time they’d ever been in a crash.
“I wanted them to know that I was there to take care of them, and that we’d get through it together.”
District administrators arrived on the scene to assist Moll and emergency services. Perry County Road and Bridge workers who heard the crash from their nearby shop were also there helping to move students to safety. On campus, the crisis team began contacting students’ parents to begin the reunification process.
On the bus, Moll said that Landon Enloe, a sixth-grader at Perry County Middle School, assisted her in comforting the other students. “As I was on one side of the bus checking on students, Landon was on the other side offering comfort,” she said. “Landon moved seat to seat, even hugging the younger ones and telling them ‘We’re alright, Tia did a good job and we’re fine.’ I was so impressed by his maturity and his compassion.’”
Moll and her students were examined on-scene by paramedics who determined that no one needed to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. Another bus returned them to campus, where staff helped fill out accident reports and principals, teachers, nurses and counselors soothed students until their parents arrived to pick them up.
“This accident could have been much worse,” said Assistant Superintendent Jeanie White. “A split-second delay on Tia’s part could have been catastrophic. Throughout the event, Tia remained absolutely focused on her students.
“Since the accident, Tia has spoken about how all the hours of driver training she’s had over the last 6 years paid off that day. She says she knew exactly what to do. And she did it so well: She kept her kids safe, she assisted EMS, and somehow, most of the students were smiling through their tears when they got back to campus. We’re all grateful for Tia’s professionalism and her love for the students in her care.”
Both Moll and Enloe were recognized at the April 14 Board of Education Meeting. Moll has been a transportation professional with District 32 for six years. She is the mother of Ava and Gavin, both students at District 32. Enloe is the son of Danielle Green and James Drury. He is the grandson of Donna Green and Angela Stone, and has four siblings – Anthony, Michael, Sophia and Rylee.
“When Tia shared with us that Landon helped her comfort and care for the other students on the bus, I was incredibly moved by his courage and kindness,” said Superintendent Andy Comstock. “When I say that our district is a family, I really mean it. We’re all proud of Landon for his actions, and congratulate his parents on raising such a fine young man.”
Moll got right back on the bus the next morning, but she wasn’t behind the wheel. “I wanted to sit with my kids and let them know that I wasn’t afraid to keep driving their bus,” she said. “We talked about how scary the accident was, but also about how many days we had all ridden the bus without an accident.”
A few hours later, Moll was in the driver’s seat of Bus 15 waiting for her students after school. “I did drive them home that afternoon,” she said, “and even though we were all a bit nervous, we got through it – together.”
Ms. Moll's directors, Sarah Orf and John Bohnarczyk, congratulated her for the recognition.
Did you know that D32 drivers have a combined 339 years of experience and an excellent safety record?