Women who stopped runaway UTA bus in SLC share their story

Posted at 9:44 PM, May 17, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- A runaway bus without a driver and passengers left to fend for themselves. It sounds like a movie, but it was all too real for nine passengers on board a UTA bus earlier this month.

On Wednesday, UTA released security video from inside the bus. In the video you see the bus parked on the shoulder of Foothill Drive during morning rush hour back on May 5.

You see the driver leave the bus and walk around the outside to reset the battery. Kathy Fellows and Rachel Staheli, seen sitting in the front row, were among nine passengers on board when the doors unexpectedly closed.

"So we looked at each other and went, 'This isn't good' and we both got up at the same time and moved forward because the bus was starting to move with no driver," Fellows said.

You can see Staheli frantically try to open the doors, but she was unable to do so.

"The driver had gone around the front of the bus and was hitting on the door saying, 'Get the brake, get the brake, get the brake!'" Staheli said.

That's when Staheli jumped into the driver's seat.

"You can see me looking around for the pedal, they have two or three there so I don't know exactly which one is the right one," she recalled.

Staheli was finally able to slam on the brakes after the bus had rolled more than 60 feet, gaining speeds of 15-miles-per hour.

"The adrenaline kicked in, my legs started shaking," Staheli said. "If we would have kept going probably 60 more feet we would have hit a power pole."

Fellows, who can been seen helping Staheli look for the brakes, ended up airborne.

"And I flew forward and then landed on my back," she said.

UTA says the bus driver made a crucial mistake, she forgot to apply the parking brake.

"Unfortunately the cause of this incident was a misprocedure in a stressful situation," said Dave Goeres, Chief Safety and Security Officer for UTA. "We are very happy that these passengers reacted and remedied that situation."

Staheli says she isn't a hero, but Fellows, who witnessed the entire incident up close, says what her friend did was special.

"I think she is amazing and she did what needed to be done at the time and I'm grateful...I'm grateful that it didn't turn out worse," Fellows said.

UTA says because of this incident they are retraining all of their drivers. They are also putting stickers in the front of all buses reminding drivers to always use their parking brakes.