Brothers Connor and Seamus Collins, receive challenge coins for their bravery by Topsham Police and Sagadahoc Regional Communications Center. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

Two teenage brothers who worked together to safely bring their runaway school bus to a stop on March 14 were recognized by local police and the school board for their heroics during a March 24 school board meeting.

Connor Collins, 16, and Seamus Collins, 14, knew there was a problem on their bus ride to school when the bus began to swerve into a ditch.

“We were scared,” Connor said.

Bus driver Arthur E. McDougall, Sr. suffered a medical emergency and lost control of the bus. The Collins brothers sprang into action. Seamus Collins said students on the bus were screaming. The brothers grabbed the wheel, avoiding oncoming traffic and drove the bus to safety, while another student called 911.  When the bus stopped, other students immediately ran outside to flag down help. Citizens were quick to respond.

“I commend you for your quick action and support for one another,” said Maine School Administrative District 75 Interim Superintendent Robert Lucy said to the students.

McDougall died later that day, despite the students’ efforts to administer first aid until first responders arrived.


Police Chief Marc Hagan said he was impressed with the kindness and maturity of the 14 students on board the bus. He said he was proud that the students knew to help. Hagan acknowledged everyone from students to first responders to citizens who stopped to help. He said it was a “team effort and everyone plays a role no matter how large or how small.”

Mike Carter of the Sagadahoc Regional Communications Center said he was impressed with the clarity and calmness of the young female student who called 911.

Each student on the bus received challenge pins from Topsham Police and Sagadahoc Regional Communications Center, as well as a letter of recognition from the school board.

McDougall’s widow asked Hagan to pass her “deepest thanks,” to the students, Hagan said.

“She is overwhelmed by how many people tried to save his life,” he added.

Connor Collins (right) and Seamus Collins (left) hold pins awarded to them by the town. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

MSAD 75 Transportation Director Lisa Gadway, shared her memories of McDougall at the meeting. She said when the school struggled to find bus drivers last year, McDougall showed up in her office, offering to help.


Gadway asked why he wanted to be a bus driver, and she related how McDougall said he enjoyed working with children. Gadway checked in with McDougall two weeks after hiring, when children were supposedly acting out on the bus. When she asked if he wanted to be switched to a different route, he responded, “‘Oh no, I don’t want to switch runs, I love those kids’,” Gadway said.

Gadway said McDougall came to work each day with a smile and excitement.

“He will be missed by all who had a chance to know him. He was so proud to be your bus driver,” she said.

Word of Connor and Seamus Collins’ actions spread far and wide. The students received a call over Zoom from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on March 22. Kraft commended the boys for their bravery and awarded them with tickets to the Patriots’ opening game at Gillette Stadium.

When asked how they felt about the phone call, Connor said, they were “completely shocked.”

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story