KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A homeless man is being hailed as a hero after Wednesday's frightening bus accident on Pali Highway. Passenger Brian Ward took control of the city bus, after a large tree crashed into the vehicle and knocked the driver unconscious.
Ward was heading to the Tripler Army Medical Center for treatment of pink eye. His city bus ride turned out to be anything but routine.
"I'm still shaken up by it," he said. "I keep seeing that tree coming through the top of the bus."
When a wind-driven, 60-foot tall ironwood tree demolished the front of a bus Wednesday, Brian Ward and a female passenger fought through shards of glass to get to their injured driver.
"An overwhelming sense of calm came across me," Ward said. "I just got up and I started removing the debris off the driver."
But the bus with nearly a dozen people in it was still moving, and started veering into oncoming traffic on Pali Highway.
"I'm telling him, 'You gotta stop the bus. Hit the brakes. Hit the brakes.' I thought I heard him say, 'I can't,'" Ward recalled. "I'm thinking, God, I gotta stop the bus. I gotta stop the bus."
So Ward grabbed the wheel.
"The bus was like basically rolling to a stop, so all I did was just kind of steer it over a little bit to the shoulder of the road," he said.
There, the terrifying ride finally came to an end. But the 52-year-old wasn't done yet.
"I immediately got off the bus," he said. "Then I went outside and started directing traffic."
The head of Oahu Transit Services later contacted the reluctant hero.
"He called me and personally thanked me," Ward said. "People are telling me I'm some kind of hero or whatever. I really don't look at it like that. I just, I just reacted."
Ward, who's been homeless for the past three years, hopes the public will view people like him differently.
"There's too many stereotypical thoughts about homeless people, that they're drunks and drug addicts," he said. "Not all people are that way."
The Navy veteran who suffers depression says the freak accident has changed him.
"I didn't really have much of a value for life, mostly my own I guess," he said. "But it kind of gave me a new insight."
OTS president Roger Morton praised Ward for his heroic actions and was the one who put Hawaii News Now in contact with him.