Youth group leader averts accident on motorway

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A 21-year-old youth group leader took over the wheel of a bus on a motorway after the driver suffered from a stroke and collapsed.

9 September 2008

LIMBURG -- One of the leaders of a girls' youth group prevented a traffic accident from taking place in Zonhoven (Limburg) on Sunday.

The youth group was on an outing when the bus driver took ill. Youth group leader Kathleen Vandael, 21, took over the wheel of the bus and was able to drive it safely on to the hard shoulder of the motorway.

Fifty-nine children of a local girls' youth group were on their way to the fantasy park Efteling in the Netherlands when the bus driver suffered a stroke on the E313 motorway.

The bus suddenly swerved to the left and struck against the median strip. The bus driver fell out of his seat.

"While the others attended to the bus driver, I got behind the steering wheel," said Vandael.

"I was able to get the bus back in the lane, but I didn't know where the brakes were. I managed though to get the bus on to the hard shoulder and stop it."

Vandael received a welcome home on Sunday fit for a heroine. Parents of the girls expressed their gratitude and congratulated the youth leader for her good deed.

The municipality of Zonhoven will commemorate Vandael on 21 September. The bus driver is now recovering in hospital.

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