updated 4/9/2008 11:02:12 AM ET 2008-04-09T15:02:12

An 11-year-old boy who steered a runaway school bus to safety said Wednesday he took the wheel because the vehicle was rolling toward a semi.

David Murphy said other children on board during Monday's crash were "freaking out," screaming and hollering, and he decided he had to do something.

"I took the wheel and had to turn the wheel on the sidewalk," he said.

His mother said she was amazed.

"When I saw the precision of the bus, it seemed like it was parked," Patricia Murphy told told on ABC's "Good Morning America." "I couldn't believe it and that he had that strength and that direction."

She said she figured out a reason her son was so quiet afterward was that he was terrified he'd get in trouble for taking the wheel.

David was among 27 students headed to a charter school on Monday when the driver stopped at a Cleveland service station, pumped about $40 of fuel and went into the restroom while the bus was parked and running.

In his absence, the bus began rolling about 300 feet down a side street that swoops through an industrial area and was on a collision course with a semitrailer.

David told police he first tried to pull the emergency brake. When that didn't work, he grabbed the wheel and stopped the bus by guiding it into a bridge's concrete support pillar.

'Shy kid'
"He veered the bus into the last possible pillar," said Cleveland Fire Department spokesman Larry Gray. "He was a shy kid. I don't think he grasped the magnitude of what he did."

It's not clear why the bus started to roll, police Lt. Thomas Stacho said. Investigators did not find any mechanical problems and a gas station employee watching the bus said none of the children appeared to tamper with anything, he said.

Some students jumped out as the bus rolled. Fifteen were checked later at hospitals, but severe injuries were avoided.

"We are excited that every one of those kids went home, and we spoke with all of their families today," Head of School Alexis Rainbow said Tuesday.

The driver, Michael Weir, 57, will be cited for leaving a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition and for registration violations, Cleveland police spokesman Thomas Stacho said Tuesday.

Weir has a valid commercial driver's license but wasn't registered with the state as required, police said. His license was suspended for six months in 2006 and was reissued July 16.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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