Updated: 03/01/2013 12:38 PM KSTP.com
(AP) WARSAW, Poland - Two passengers who saved a bus that went out of control when its driver passed out in Poland have become local heroes.
Many of the 20 people aboard the bus screamed in panic when the driver suddenly fell off his seat in the fast moving vehicle near the town of Kierzemark on Thursday.
"He’s fallen off!" shouted Irena, a middle-aged passenger. "Can anyone drive?"
Dramatic CCTV footage shows her grab the steering wheel as the bus veers left into an oncoming lane of the road and hit the side of a car.
The bus then clobbers a road sign, smashing its windshield.
With the assistance of passenger Gabriela Donke-Banach, Irena regains control of the bus and brings it back into its lane.
A male passenger then intervenes and brings the bus to a halt.
At that point, the driver regains consciousness and asks: "What has happened?" He didn’t appear to be hurt, but he was hospitalized for tests.
"I don’t know how I did it. I was in shock," Irena said on TVN24, adding that she doesn’t even have a driver’s license. Many TV stations in Poland showed the dramatic footage and portrayed her as the bus’ savior. Either out of modesty or an effort to protect her privacy, she declined to give her surname.
Asked why she had assisted Irena, Donke-Banach, a woman in her 20s, said: "It was an instinctive action to help the woman and to live because I want to live."
Piotr Topolewicz, the head of PKS Gdansk, which owns the bus, said Friday the two women prevented a major crash that could have seriously injured many people. To thank them both, he offered the women permanent free bus fares.
Police said no one was injured in the car that was hit by the bus.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)