(09/07/2005)
By Bob Weaver

Kathy Woods of Walker Road says Calhoun school bus driver Joe Taylor is a hero, at least to her and the children that were in her household.

The Taylor house was struck by rapidly rising water on August 29, as a flash flood struck the upper West Fork area of the county.

Taylor dropped the kids off during the downpour to head up Walker, where he turned his bus around.

"The water was ankle deep when I went up the creek, but when I got back to the Wood's house about 20 minutes later it was mid-chest deep, and going through their house," said Taylor.

Kathy Woods noticed water coming through the front door. "I tried to block it with some towels, but it was too much," she said, as the house rapidly filled with water.

Teenagers Sean Gungle and neighbor Leo Jolley started helping the smaller children from the house, Erika Wood, 10, Trisha Turner, 10, and Dustin Turner, 9.

"Sean came in and said, 'Mom we have to leave now,' but water was rising so rapidly we were forced to go out a kitchen window," said Woods.

Taylor got off his bus to find one of the teens with a child on his back, desperately fighting the swift current.

Kathy Wood's said Taylor disregarded his own safety and went into the water and pulled them out.

Taylor held onto a tree and pulled the individuals to the road, and put the smaller children on his bus.

Neighbors John Mullens and John Peck arrived to assist.

Taylor made his way to the Woods' pick-up truck and was able to back it through rising water.

Kathy Woods, her children, and the Turner children were taken to the John Peck home for shelter.

The school bus was stranded until 10 p.m.

Taylor, a resident of Sugar Camp and driver for one-and-one-half years said "I'm really not a hero. I just happened to be there."


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