A teenager killed when a school bus was hit by a train in North Dakota has been hailed a hero as she died trying to rescue the stricken bus driver.
Cassidy Sandstrom, 17, pushed other students to the back of the bus so they could get out while she went to the front to help driver Max Danner, who is thought to have had a medical condition that caused the bus to stop on railway tracks in Larimore on Monday, WDAY reports.
Tragically, while she was helping Danner, 62, to safety, the bus was hit by an oncoming BNSF train and both were killed, with 12 others injured. Sandstrom's family paid tribute to the Larimore High School student, with her sister Christa telling WDAY how proud they are of her.
"Knowing of her selflessness brings us some solace; it makes it all make more sense knowing that if she had not been there, there would have been many more children's lives lost."
Among the students whose lives she helped save was her younger brother Matthew, who has had surgery for injuries sustained in the crash but is expected to fully recover.
The Fargo Forum reports that Sandstrom's family sent an email to relatives and friends describing the teenager's last few minutes and was then shared on Facebook, prompted hundreds of tributes.
The email said that Sandstrom had unbuckled the seat belt around Danner – also a teacher at Larimore High School – and tried to get him out of his seat and out of the bus.
“She just couldn’t save everyone, as the train came thru the front door,” they wrote, according to the Forum.
The crash happened at around 3.40 p.m. near 36th Street and County Road 4 when Danner failed to yield to a stop sign at the tracks, though police have said it is too early to speculate that a medical condition was the cause of this.
It wasn't just Sandstrom who played a role in the rescue effort either, with nearby residents responding immediately to the crash, the Grand Forks Herald reports, retrieving injured children and giving them and their families places to stay.
According to WDAZ, a funeral for Danner will be held this Monday at St Paul's Lutheran Church in Honeyford at 2.30 p.m. Services for Sandstrom have not yet been confirmed.
The accident is still under investigation.