DeShan Fishel didn’t set out Thursday morning to become a hero, but she had been called one dozens of times by the time she arrived home from taking her daughter to school.
Fishel was being hailed for her quick action that helped authorities arrest the teen driver who fled after reportedly striking a 5-year-old boy at a school bus stop.
Early that morning, Fishel pulled up behind a stopped school bus on Dawson Forest Road in Dawson County.
"I was about four car lengths behind and all I saw was a white Jeep Cherokee come flying by and hit one of the kids that was going across the road to get on the school bus," she said.
With adrenaline pumping and a 911 dispatcher on her cell phone, Fishel turned on her hazard lights, made a U-turn in the middle of the street and pursued the Jeep at speeds topping 70 mph.
"All that I can think about was this little kid, and the driver he was getting away," she said. "I couldn’t let him get away. My adrenaline was just going when I saw him not slow down."
Fishel pursued the Jeep, which eventually stopped after running through a stop sign at Dawson Forest Road and Ga. 9.
"I jumped out of my car and told him he wasn’t going anywhere," she said.
Officers arrived within moments and took the Jeep’s driver, 19-year-old Gary Alan Hoosline of Cleveland, into custody.
Hoosline is charged with failure to stop for a school bus and failure to report an accident with injuries (hit-and-run),
Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle said. He was released later Thursday on $1,200 bond.
Meanwhile, the 5-year-old boy struck by Hoosline’s Jeep is expected to recover, family members said.
"They’ve sent him down to Egleston in Atlanta, but we think he’s going to get to come home (soon)," said Romel Velasquez, the child’s uncle.
Originally taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville with nonlife-threatening injuries, Omar Gomez, a student at Black’s Mill Elementary School, was waiting with his siblings and cousins as the bus was coming to a stop in front of their home.
"It was the last stop before getting to the school," said Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten.
Velasquez said his nephew was "hit as he started to walk across the road to get on the bus."
"He’s going to be OK," Velasquez said, "but it knocked him down, and he was bleeding."
No one else was injured in the incident.
Dawson County School Superintendent Nicky Gilleland, who arrived a few minutes after the incident, worked with teachers to take the other children off the bus and walk them to the elementary school, which is a short distance away.
"He didn’t want to go to the hospital," Gilleland said of Gomez. "He wanted to go on to school."
Fishel maintains that Hoosline, who was traveling west on Dawson Forest, did not attempt to slow down as he approached the bus.
Unwilling to think about possible consequences, Fishel said she did not realize the magnitude of her actions until after
Hoosline stopped the Jeep and Dawson County Sheriff’s deputies arrived.
"Then finally my adrenaline slowed down and I realized I was thinking, ‘Oh my God! There’s no telling what he could have done to me,’" she said. "But at the moment I didn’t think about that, I was just thinking about the little kid."
Wooten called Fishel a hero.
"Obviously, we don’t encourage anyone to try to take it on themselves to go help us capture someone, but it’s like she said today, it was a kid and she felt she had to and we’re thankful for that.
"She’s a hero in our eyes, because we don’t know that we would have been able to catch him if not for her quick thinking, her determination to make sure he didn’t leave," he said.