By Art Holliday
ATLANTA, Ga. (KSDK) - There was 129 lives at stake Thursday morning when the Parkway North band director sprang into action to save an out-of-control bus.
The students and chaperones were on a spring break trip when the bus driver passed out near Atlanta.
At the time of the incident, 108 students along with 20 adults and teachers were on the bus from St. Louis to Orlando to begin a three day cruise to the Bahamas.
The bus driver slumped over the wheel on a Georgia interstate around 6:30 a.m. with the bus going 70 miles per hour.
Band director Mark Linn took action.
"The chaperone behind me said 'Mark, something's wrong with the driver.' So I got up and he was slumped over the wheel," said Linn, "and at that time I tried to shake him, thinking he had just fallen asleep."
The situation was serious. The driver was unconscious, and the bus was out of control in a construction zone.
"We hit pylons and traffic cones and barrels and skidded off a guard rail once," said Linn. "I grabbed the wheel and tried to get his foot off the accelerator then put my leg between his and hit the brake and guided it to a stop."
In the age of social media, it wasn't long before Linn's students were singing his praises on Facebook.
One of them wrote: "You probably won't read about it in the papers, and it probably won't make any headlines, but my high school band teacher Mark Linn prevented what could have been a headline making catastrophe."
"To be quite frank, it was pretty scary," said Linn. "Because I was concerned not only for our driver, but for our kids, and there were a couple of seconds there I wasn't sure if it was going to work out okay. But thank god I was able to wrestle the wheel away from him and get the bus stopped."
There was a doctor on board who attended to the bus driver when he regained consciousness.
The Parkway North Vikings band spent the night in Cocoa Beach, Florida, set to begin a three day cruise to the Bahamas Friday. After that, a return trip to St. Louis with an adventure story they'll be talking about the rest of their lives.