Hallel Kana, an 11th grader and resident of Nokdim, is being hailed as a hero after noticing that on the ride school last week that the bus driver was in distress and had lost consciousness.
Hallel is a student at Ohr Torah Stone's Ulpanat Katz Oriya near Alon Shvut and recalled to Israel National News - Arutz Sheva the terrifying experience that ended well in large part due to her intervention.
As the bus was accelerating and preparing to ease into traffic, Hallel recalled hearing a boom, apparently from a collision with the side median.
“I looked up at the mirror above the driver and I saw that he was having a seizure and was leaning to the side. I saw his face and while his hands were still on the wheel he was shaking and seemed to be falling. I immediately jumped up and grabbed the wheel because the bus had started to swerve towards oncoming traffic. I took control of the wheel and was also able to get my foot in and brake the bus,” she said.
“Another bus came to a stop alongside us and I signaled that we needed help. I opened the door and together with a Magen David Adom volunteer they took the driver off the bus and began CPR.”
Going back to those urgent few seconds when the bus almost lost control, Hallel recalled, “Behind me all the girls were agitated. They called MDA and their parents and there was a lot of crying and screaming. I realized that I needed to take control of the situation to prevent an even bigger disaster and to make sure we didn’t crash into oncoming traffic.”
Perhaps most surprisingly is that even though she is of age, Hallel hasn’t begun learning to drive but still had the instincts to respond quickly and bring the bus to a stop. “When you’re presented with incredible stress and you know you need to react, you do so without second thought or asking yourself whether you know exactly what needs to be done. I was only focused on the fact that I needed the bus to stop,” she explained.
Asked how she knew which pedal to step on to avoid the bus accelerating, she said simply, “I’ve watched my parents drive, and we studied driving theory in school. I saw that the driver's foot was on the gas, and understood that the second pedal was the brake.”
Hallel admitted that the reality of what she did still hasn’t fully set in, but she knows that she prevented a disaster. The other girls on the bus know that Hallel’s actions saved lives, and were deeply appreciative.
As for the driver, Hallel says he is in stable condition, largely as a result of the quick response and getting him the necessary medical care as quickly as possible.
Yinon Ahiman, Ohr Torah Stone's Director General added, “We are so full of pride in the response and awareness that Hallel demonstrated which clearly prevented what could have been a very serious incident. Together with the other girls on the bus, they helped the driver and called the ambulance crews so the driver could be cared for. We are truly blessed that these are our students, who so reflect the spirit of responsibility and caring – particularly when its needed most. We wish the driver a full and speedy recovery.”
Hallel didn't want to accept the label of hero but said, “I just acted to prevent something much worse happening. What's most important is for people just to learn to pay attention to their surroundings, and if you see someone in need, be there to respond with empathy and whatever might be needed.”
On Tuesday morning, Rosh Chodesh Kislev, the month known for miracles, the students of the Ulpanat Katz Oriya, together with the administrators of Ohr Torah Stone, local council members, and representatives from the Ministry of Education, gathered together to give thanks following last week's incident.
In recognition of her quick thinking and role in preventing a tragic accident, Rabbi Dr. Katriel Brander, President and Rosh HaYeshiva of the Ohr Torah Stone network, presented Hallel with a fitting gift - payment for 18 driving lessons.