CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — Emergency officials in Cabarrus County said a school bus driver had to be rescued after the bus became stuck in fast-moving floodwaters early Tuesday.
Officials said bus No. 169 was on its way to pick up Mount Pleasant High School students before the sun was up when it became stuck in floodwaters from the high-rising Dutch Buffalo Creek on Bowman-Barrier Road near Boston Street.
No students were on the bus, officials said.
Only Channel 9 watched as crews set up on a bridge nearby in an effort to pull the bus from the water.
Bowman-Barrier Road was shut down in both directions because of the fast-moving water.
Mount Pleasant Fire Chief Jerry Taylor told Channel 9 that the driver was not hurt. He said the driver told rescue crews that he never saw the water until he was already in it.
"He advised me that he never saw the water until he was in it. It was too late. The hood of the bus came up is when he finally realized he was in the water," Taylor said.
Mount Pleasant firefighter Tyler Hoopaugh said he cabled out to the bus and pulled the driver out through the emergency door.
"With the children not being on board, that kind of eased our minds," Hoopaugh said. "I went through the rear emergency exit. The way the bus was sitting, I didn't trust it, as far as being secure, to make it to the main door, so I just brought him out of the emergency exit."
Hoopaugh said if students were on board, the rescue process would have taken a lot longer and more would have been at risk.
Hoopaugh said it should serve as a warning to all drivers to be careful, especially with the potential of flash flooding.
"It's dangerous. It can take you away in a heartbreak, as we say today. It will strand a school bus and that's a big vehicle, no telling what it could do to a Honda," Hoopaugh said.
Taylor said improvements were made to the bridge where Tuesday's incident occurred a few years ago, but it still floods. He said it is an area they always monitor when it rains.
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