School bus driver selected as Norcal’s best

Local school bus driver Maria del Carmen Collins was on her normal afternoon route May 3, 2018 when an impaired driver slammed into the bus she was driving with 46 Gilroy Unified School District students on board.

Carmen Collins quickly assessed the situation, secured the scene, called for help and ensured the safety of all the students on board. Once all students had been safely evacuated, Carmen Collins continued to offer comfort and guidance to them as help arrived and parents were able to come pick their children up, according to district staff.

For these quick-thinking actions, Carmen Collins was recently selected by the California Highway Patrol as the Northern California Bus Driver of the Year.

“Carmen Collins’ bravery is indicative of the ‘above and beyond’ approach so many of our staff members demonstrate every day on behalf of our students,” said Gilroy Superintendent Deborah Flores.

Carmen Collins will be honored at a May 1 ceremony inside the Gilroy Unified School District boardroom, 7810 Arroyo Circle, at 9:30am. The award will be presented by CHP Commissioner Warren A. Stanley, Research and Planning Division Sgt. Taylor.

“The entire GUSD community is grateful to Carmen (Collins) for the selfless care she showed our students on the afternoon of May 3,” Flores said. “The fact that no one aboard Bus 15 was seriously injured is also a testament to all of the children on board who knew the rules of the bus prior to the accident and then followed Carmen’s instructions to ensure their safety.”

The May 3, 2018 collision between the Gilroy schoolbus and a Ford Expedition occurred on Monterey Road in Gilroy. The Ford Expedition flipped and collided with the schoolbus, which was preparing to offload students at a bus stop.

“Carmen is a valued member of the GUSD transportation team,” said GUSD Transportation Supervisor Patrishia Tice, who nominated Carmen Collins for the award. “She is a leader among our drivers and always puts the children who we bus to and from home first every day. We are so proud of her.”