Steamboat Springs school bus driver stable after suffering cardiac arrest while driving
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs School District bus driver who was flown to a hospital in Loveland on Monday is in stable condition but faces a long road to recovery.
George Morris, a longtime Steamboat resident, went into cardiac arrest after rear-ending another vehicle while taking kids home from school Monday afternoon.
A bystander, Rob Harvey, immediately performed CPR on Morris after he suddenly collapsed and stopped breathing. Paramedics transported Morris to the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, where he was stabilized.
Steamboat Springs High School teacher Matt Helm, who was heading home from work, stopped to check on the students still on the bus.
“There were a lot of little kids,” Helm said. “They were all pretty scared.”
Helm knew Morris from the time Helm spent as a substitute bus driver for the school district. After ensuring the students were unharmed, Helm drove them home on a different bus.
Morris was flown to the UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, where doctors put him in a chemically induced coma.
The time that Morris spent unresponsive jeopardized the health of his lungs, kidneys and brain, as well as causing damage to his heart.
Morris’ son Cody Morris-Breslin said his father underwent emergency surgery on Monday to replace a stent in his arteries from a previous heart attack, 11 years ago.
Doctors in Loveland immediately put Morris on a ventilator later that day because of fluid build-up in his lungs that led to a pneumonia infection, according to Morris’ son.
As of now, the doctors’ biggest concern is the status of his kidneys, which have not been filtering toxins from his blood. Morris-Breslin explained his father could need dialysis if his kidneys do not start functioning properly.
Doctors told the family Morris has a 90 percent chance of recovering kidney function, but they are continuing to monitor his blood and lungs.
“He’s having quite the battle,” his son said.
He added that doctors are unsure about the extent of damage to Morris’ brain, which could impact his motor function.
Morris has shown progress in the last two days.
His son explained he is now under light sedation and has been able to move his extremities and respond to commands, which is a good sign his brain did not suffer extensive damage. He is able to breathe on his own during the day but uses the ventilator at night.
This extensive medical care and the uncertainty around whether Morris will be able to return to work has presented a financial challenge to his family members.
Morris is single but has a sister, two sons and two daughters who have all been trying to take time off from their jobs to be with him.
They set up a GoFundMe campaign Thursday to raise money to help care for Morris.
The campaign had raised $1,235 by Friday afternoon, with the goal of raising $5,000.
They have also been posting updates about Morris’ status on CaringBridge, a website that rallies support for sick and injured patients.
Morris has been a celebrated member of the community over the years. In 2013, he won a Best of the Boat award when he worked as a Steamboat Springs Transit bus driver. Locals voted as him as the city’s best driver for his sense of humor and positivity.
Casey Ung, the school district’s transportation director, said Morris has brought that same good-naturedness to his school bus routes.
“He’s always got a very positive attitude on the bus,” Ung said. “The kids really enjoy him.”
He has been in touch with Morris’ family and shares the concerns of other bus drivers from the school district who hope for his speedy recovery.
“We’re just focusing on his health and being a team here to support him and his family,” Ung said.
Morris has even received letters from students on his bus route who hope he can return to work soon.
Morris’ son voiced the family’s appreciation for the first responders and bystanders who helped to care for his father Monday.
“Myself and my siblings would like to thank the man that performed CPR and the man that finished the bus route, making sure the kids were safe,” he said.
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