Student tried to help driver who died in school bus crash

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by Karen Brown

Bio | Email | Follow: @KarenBrown3TV

azfamily.com

Posted on January 25, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 25 at 8:40 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Friends and family members came together Friday to remember Lee Plante, who died Wednesday after falling unconscious behind the wheel of a school bus and crashing through the wall of a North Valley backyard.

The medical report has not returned, so his family does not know what caused the 56-year-old to lose consciousness. But 14-year-old Jesse Hermanson remembers Plante's final moments.

"At first, I thought he just knocked his head and that's why he was out," said Jesse, a freshman at Deer Valley High School. "But he kept holding onto the steering wheel as he was down."

Plante collapsed as he tried to make a U-turn with Jesse and an aide on board the bus.

"I started reaching out and I was thinking, 'I got to do something, I got to do something, I got to help Lee,' " Jesse said. "I ducked under the front, so I was watching us go through the brick wall. We plowed through it, barely felt it."

Jesse said all that was going through his mind was making sure Plante was okay.

"I saw him halfway out the doors; he pushed his body through," he said. "The glass was shattered everywhere. My quick thought was (to) call 911 and release the emergency switch because the doors kept pinching him."

Jesse called 911, telling emergency services that Plante was halfway through the door and he did not know where they were.

Greg Plante, Lee Plante's son, said Jesse was brave and did everything he could have done. He added that he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from family and friends at Lee's favorite bar in Glendale.

"He loved his job and the kids, and he was always responsible for getting the kids to school every day," Greg Plante said. "He loved that."

Bystanders and the owner of the home tried performing CPR to resuscitate Plante. His family believes he suffered a heart attack.

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