Quick action from Dubuque assistant averts tragedy

Justin Smith, an assistant coach on the University of Dubuque's women's basketball team, took quick action to avert tragedy when the team's bus driver lost consciousness during the drive back to Iowa from the Music City Classic

According to the University's release, the bus driver suffered a medical emergency and lost consciousness in Trigg County, Kentucky, about an hour into the team's return from Nashville, Tennessee. The Windstar Charter bus veered into a guard rail, awakening Smith who jumped to the steering wheel and applied the bus' brakes. Spartans head coach Mark Noll joined Smith in getting the bus under control while assistant coach Jenna Kotas contacted 911. Assistant coach Wayne Jentz maneuvered the bus onto the shoulder to prevent another vehicle from colliding with the bus.

There were no injuries to the team, coaches or personnel who arrived back in Dubuque safely this weekend. The driver was taken to Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Kentucky.

"We're still a little in shock," Smith told The Associated Press by phone Monday. "I'm just thankful everyone's OK. ... I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. The actual initial accident and me jumping out and grabbing the wheel felt like three seconds."

"It was a very serious situation and a quick reaction by Justin who kept all of us from any further injuries," said Noll in the Universitys release. "We had just crossed a bridge and topped a hill, we are so fortunate the metal guard rail was in the area we hit, otherwise the bus would have travelled across the median and into oncoming east bound traffic."

Dubuque is 3-9 after splitting its games at the Music City Classic, losing to Wesleyan 66-54 and beating Shenandoah 73-56. The Spartans return to action on Wednesday night when they play at local rival Loras.