Driver Speaks Out After She Flew Through Windshield When Bus Full of Students Blew Tire

"I can walk away and be thankful that I've never had a casualty on my watch," driver Tina Wilson, 55, said

  • Tina Wilson was driving a charter bus carrying students from the University of South Carolina to New Orleans on April 5

  • Wilson still maintained control of the vehicle to keep it standing after it experienced a tire blowout

  • Recovering from her injuries at a New Orleans hospital, Wilson said she will never drive a bus again

The driver of a charter bus who heroically steered her vehicle to avoid tipping over on Interstate 10 in Mississippi two weeks ago is grateful to be alive as she is recovering from her serious injuries.

"I can walk away and be thankful that I've never had a casualty on my watch," Tina Wilson said, per local NBC affiliate WDSU.

On April 5, Tina, 55, was driving a bus carrying 56 students from the University of South Carolina, all members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, en route to New Orleans for a formal, the Sun Herald reported.

While on the interstate, a tire from the bus blew out, and Tina used her strength to steer the wheel to keep the bus standing, although she was thrown from the windshield.

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<p>Mississippi Highway Patrol</p> The bus driven by Tina Wilson

Mississippi Highway Patrol

The bus driven by Tina Wilson

“I don’t question why this happened,” she told the newspaper while recovering at a New Orleans hospital. “It’s just a joy every day that I open my eyes.”

In an interview with WDSU, Tina, a longtime truck driver, recalled her training following the tire blowout. "Steer out of it; do not touch the brakes," she said.

Per authorities, after Tina prevented the bus from flipping, it rolled down the interstate driverless and a student passenger stepped in and applied the brakes. In addition to the driver, all of the passengers inside the bus survived.

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“There were no casualties. I repeat, there were no casualties due to Tina’s heroic efforts!” Wilson’s sister, Shirley Wilson, wrote on a GoFundMe that she established. “Tina risked her own life and did all that she was trained to do, which was protecting the precious souls that she was carrying that afternoon, the 56 students on the bus. The State Trooper on the scene that day hailed Tina a HERO and said, if but not for her actions, there would have been casualties.”

Per the Sun Herald, a couple who was driving behind the bus had stopped and helped Tina, according to the driver’s sister. Tina was covered in glass and curled on the pavement.

Shirley wrote on the GoFundMe that her sister didn’t remember much about the incident at the time, other than being escorted into a waiting helicopter and later waking up in the hospital in New Orleans.

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"I have a lot of road rash,” Tina later told WDSU. “It was a traumatic injury, and that's why I'm in the burn unit ... it's excruciating."

Her sister Shirley further wrote in the fundraiser description that her sister maintained her good sense of humor throughout the ordeal, and that Tina is thankful to God for keeping her safe.

“She is thankful to the couple who came to her aid while she was dazed and confused on the highway,” Shirley also wrote. “She is thankful to all who have whispered a soft prayer or sent a good wish on her behalf. Tina is extremely thankful that she was returned to her family and friends.”

Related: 5 Dead, Including 3 Preschoolers, After School Bus Collides with Semi Truck in Illinois

Tina said, per the Sun Herald, that she will never drive a bus again after the experience. Meanwhile, her family is asking for donations through the GoFundMe to pay for her ongoing recovery.  As of Friday morning, they had raised nearly $7,000.

PEOPLE contacted Shirley Wilson, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and the University of South Carolina for additional information Friday, but did not receive an immediate response.

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