LISBON, Maine — Connor and Seamus Collins have been hailed heroes after they steered a school bus to safety when the driver collapsed at the wheel.
Police said the two brothers helped save the lives of at least 12 other students on board the school bus on Route 201 in Topsham Monday.
"I was shocked," Diane McDougall said. "I didn't believe it. I did not believe that this was truth."
McDougall's husband, Arthur, suffered a massive heart attack while driving the bus and later died at the hospital.
She and the Collins boys met for the first time in Lisbon Friday night.
"Thank you, boys," McDougall said through tears as they handed her bouquets of flowers.
Connor and Seamus recounted the moment they saw Arthur collapse and the bus started to veer off the road. They said Connor quickly went and pressed the brake as Seamus called for help.
"We just tried to teach them how important it is to stick up for themselves and stick up for others and help people," the boys' mom, Victoria Collins, said. "I didn't think they were listening, but obviously they have been."
McDougall said there have been a lot of negative comments about her husband's age and the fact he was driving the bus in the first place.
She said he had no history of heart issues and never would have knowingly put those kids at risk. She wants him to be remembered for who he was, not how he died.
"He was a kind and gentle man," she said. "He would have helped you at any time if you asked him"
The brothers are still in shock about the outpouring of support they have received in the last week. People from all over the state have taken to social media to call them "heroes."
"I don't think that word fits me," Connor said.
Despite her loss, McDougall said she is just grateful the boys were there, and she said Arthur would be, too.
"He would have been so proud of them," she said. "He would have patted them on the back and then gave them a handshake and probably offered to bring them for an ice cream."
Arthur McDougall was 77 years old.