STOCKTON -- May 9th started as a normal Friday morning for Lincoln Unified bus driver Mark Mays as he made his usual stops.
He'd picked up 50 children on his route in the 7 a.m. hour. As he approached a stop sign on Rosemarie Lane and McGaw Street, however, his heart rate dropped dramatically.
Mays fainted, but the bus kept going.
Children, from kindergarten through sixth grade, were in a panic.
Except for two of them: Koa Walker and LeLani Brown-Garrett.
The 11-year-olds took it upon themselves to try to shake Mays awake. They were able to keep him aware enough to call into the bus dispatch center for help.
The boys also directed other students to open the emergency door of the bus and get all the students out while they waited for help.
"Deep inside, I was really, really scared," said Brown-Garrett, a Colonial Heights Elementary School sixth-grader. "I thought I had to find a way to stay calm on the surface."
Walker, a fifth-grader at John R. Williams Elementary, said he was scared, too. But he felt he had to get Mays into a position to get help. So he went straight to the front of the bus through a maze of other students. He tapped on the bus driver's cheeks, trying to get him to come around.
Mays said that after the incident he was diagnosed with a heart condition where his heartbeat can drop. That morning was the first time it ever happened to the 48-year-old. It happened on the bus and a second time on his ride in the ambulance.
"I don't remember much," Mays said. "I'm just really proud of these kids. I'm the driver. I'm supposed to be taking care of them. But, at that time, they were helping me."
Lincoln Unified officials are calling Walker and Brown-Garrett heroes for their ability to keep their composure during the scary incident.
"They couldn't have responded better in how to handle an emergency," Trustee President Don Ruhstaller said.
As Mays passed out, the bus veered off the road and into the front yard of a home. Somehow, the bus positioned right between a pole and a tree and came to a stop before hitting the house. So, other than Mays, , nobody on the bus was injured.
"It's pretty amazing. It's like an angel took the wheel," Mays said.