Henry Pettie, Jr., 42, schoolteacher, saved Delores M. Porter, 10, and 14 others and attempted to save David Williams, 6, from drowning, Brenham, Texas, May 13, 1966. A part of the steering apparatus broke on a school bus driven by Pettie and containing 16 schoolchildren, 6 to 18. The vehicle plunged off the highway into a pond, where it settled to the bottom in an upright position 30 feet from the bank with the front half completely submerged and the rear end only a foot above the surface in water eight feet deep. Except for two boys, 16, who were poor swimmers, none of the children could swim. As water poured into the bus, Pettie made his way to the rear and opened the double emergency doors, which were entirely submerged. He called to the children to move to the rear of the bus where there was a 12-inch air pocket at the roof. The two older boys climbed out through windows and onto the top of the bus. Standing in the doorway and holding to the side, Pettie took hold of Delores, ducked underwater, and swung her through the opening to the surface. The two boys lifted her onto the top of the bus. Following the same procedure, Pettie removed 12 other children, some of whom squirmed in his grasp. Finding that David was missing, Pettie submerged and swam back inside the bus. Underwater he moved toward the front end, probing the seats. Pettie made three trips into the bus but could not find David. He then swam to the side near the front end. He submerged and reached through an open window but did not touch David. Three men who had gathered on the bank tied a rope and a towing cable together and threw one end to Pettie, who tied it to the bus. The two older boys handed one of the children to Pettie in the water. He took the child along the rope to the bank. The same procedure was used in removing all the children from atop the bus. The body of David later was found beneath a front seat.
48829 – 520948829-5209