SEALY, TX (KTRK/CNN) - Family, friends and others are mourning the loss of a school bus driver who died behind the wheel.
But they're also praising students and others who prevented the tragedy from becoming much worse.
"A total of 11 years driving the school bus and he loved every kid on the school bus," said Alice Gardner of her husband Gerald Gardner.
Gerald Gardner, 73, was behind the wheel of a Sealy Independent School District school bus full of children Thursday afternoon when the unthinkable happened.
"He told me this year he wasn't going to miss a day of work because he wanted to be there," said Nancy Gardner-Barrett, the man's daughter.
While pulling off the campus of Sealy Junior High School, the bus driver suffered some sort of a medical emergency and passed out behind the wheel while about to turn onto a busy highway.
"Three high school students and one junior high student immediately rushed to his aid as the bus began to start rolling slowly across Highway 90," said Doug Young, Assistant Superintendent at Sealy ISD.
Their quick thinking kept about 25 other students on that bus safe.
They managed to put the brakes on and get everyone off.
That's when complete strangers stepped in and immediately began trying to save Gardner while first responders came to the scene.
"I don't know the lady who gave my husband CPR, I wish I did," said Alice Gardner. "I'm very very grateful even though he didn't make it."
Gerald Gardner was transported to a nearby hospital where he died.
His wife and two daughters said their dad loved interacting with students and have this message for everyone who stepped up to help.
"I am so proud to have people in this community that would stop and help somebody that is in need because most people wouldn't do that, you know?" Alice Gardner said.