Basalt High School bus driver receives public safety award for actions during medical emergency
When Dan LeVan saw a vehicle accelerating out of control across a field early one morning in late September, the Basalt High School bus driver said he didn’t think twice before driving the school bus along the road to intercept the vehicle.
As soon as the vehicle, which was occupied by a motorist who had lost consciousness at the wheel, turned uphill toward Basalt High School, LeVan steered his bus between the vehicle and campus.
Upon hitting a dirt embankment, the vehicle came to a halt just prior to colliding with the school bus.
On Wednesday, the Basalt Police Department recognized LeVan and his courageous act before Basalt High School students and staff at an all-school meeting.
The officers also presented LeVan, who also works in the high school special education department, with a public safety award.
“We feel his efforts were an outstanding example of his dedication to the safety of the entire Basalt High School community and the town of Basalt,” police Chief Greg Knott said in a statement. “We are impressed and grateful for Mr. LeVan’s actions on the morning of Sept. 23.”
LeVan said the Police Department’s acknowledgment and award Wednesday came as “a total surprise.”
“I felt like I didn’t do very much,” a humble LeVan said Thursday. “To me, it just seemed like common sense.”
Though LeVan thinks his decision was nothing more than mere instinct, Knott said the high school educator’s “fast thinking and fast actions” prevented a potentially harmful situation.
“If anything, it might have been a response based on my military background,” LeVan said.
LeVan, who first lived in Glenwood Springs at just 6 weeks old, joined the Air Force as soon as he graduated from Glenwood Springs High School in 1980.
After eight years, he left the Air Force to enlist in the Army National Guard and attend college.
LeVan described the balance of being both a student and member of the National Guard, where he served as a medic, as “rewarding.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in counseling, LeVan went on to work with at-risk youth at a residential treatment center in Rifle, where a back injury led him to leave the National Guard.
LeVan later earned a master’s degree in school counseling from Adams State University, and in 2001, joined the Roaring Fork School District.
Basalt High School Principal Peter Mueller said his colleague’s selfless act at the time of the incident is “very emblematic” of LeVan’s character.
“Mr. LeVan is a wonderful person and a consummate professional,” Mueller said Thursday. “He’s fully dedicated to students and the well-being of the school.”
In addition to his official role as a paraprofessional in the special education department and as a bus driver, LeVan is always helping around the school, Mueller said, whether it’s at a basketball game, volleyball match or whatever extracurricular activities students are involved with.
“He really makes this high school feel like a great place to be for kids,” Mueller said.
When LeVan isn’t assisting students with special needs, volunteering at the school or driving the bus, the Roaring Fork native said his service club involvement — particularly with Kiwanis International and the veterans’ organization, American Legion — keep him busy.
“And every so often, I like to take a drive out into the countryside,” LeVan said. “That’s my hobby, I guess.”
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”