(TMU) – A Florida man is being hailed as a hero after colliding in a rental truck with a Georgia school bus and spending the last of his energy saving children before finally collapsing and dying.
Johnathon Grayer, a 25-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida, was driving a Ryder box truck down Georgia highway 4 on Wednesday afternoon just outside the city of Alma in Bacon County, Georgia, when the vehicle crashed into the rear of a school bus that was stopping to unload the children, according to the preliminary findings of an investigation by Georgia State Patrol (GSP).
The bus was carrying ten students at the time of the crash, authorities say.
As soon as the crash occurred, both Grayer and the bus driver quickly acted to begin helping children to get off the bus, George State Trooper Shane Copeland explained to WSAV.
After doing all that he could, Grayer eventually collapsed and later died.
“He must’ve been running on adrenaline, and his body gave out,” GSP Cpl. Shane Copeland told CNN. “He was pretty much done by that point.”
Footage from the surveillance camera on the bus also captured scenes of Grayer trying his utmost to lift seats up to help free children who were trapped within the gnarled wreckage of the bus, which crumpled like an aluminum can after it was rear-ended.
A photo published by WSAB showed the yellow bus with its back end crashed and the rear emergency exit door caved in. The rear bumper was also badly mangled and the vehicle could be seen standing upright on the grass.
Authorities claim that the bus was going at a speed of between 50 and 60 mph at the time of the collision.
Two helicopters were called to the scene to evacuate the students, according to Bacon County Emergency Management Agency Director Danny Turner.
Three of the students were taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center while three others were taken to the nearby Bacon County Hospital. The bus driver, Jerry Sweat, also was taken to Bacon County.
According to local reports, the students ranged from elementary to high school age. Fortunately, none of them suffered life-threatening injuries.
Georgia’s governor responded quickly to news of the crash.
“Terrible news out of Alma,” Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted Wednesday night. He added that his family was praying for the wellbeing of students and the Grayer’s bereaved family
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) August 12, 2020
A team of Georgia State Troopers specializing in the reconstruction of collisions will investigate the events, according to a GSP spokesperson.
Copeland told WTOC that the crash was a high impact and would be investigated by troopers as if loved ones were involved in the crash.
“We try to do the standard procedures on every crash and treat all crashes equally. However emotionally, you can’t help but to think I’ve got three children and you can’t help but think of your three children on their bus back home and it does make it personal if that makes sense,” Copeland said.