Bus driver keeps choir safe during Andover, Kansas EF-3 tornado 


“I promise we’ll cover more good-ending stories like this in the near future!”

Jamie Simms, Discover Tornadoes website lead

A bus driver is credited with keeping students from Piper High School (Piper) safe as an EF-3 tornado tore through Andover, Kansas. 

Piper School District and DS Bus lines said drier Roger Smith was driving 30 students from Piper to a choir competition near Wichita, KS when they found themselves in the middle of a severe weather event. 

The bus company said choir director Shelly Cole (Cole) contacted colleagues who were already at a Wichita hotel. She discovered that they had already been moved to storm shelters because tornadoes had been observed in the area. 

The weather conditions worsened and the wind was so strong that some students on the bus experienced motion sickness. According to a released provided by DS Bus Lines, Cole said the following: 

“I have been the Choir Director at Piper for 22 years, and have been teaching for 27 years. This is hands down the scariest thing I have experienced.”


The group attempted to find on the turnpike near El Dorado, but couldn’t. DS Bus Lines said Smith remained focused on the highway as tornado sirens started sounding on the cell phones of students. Some students used weather radar apps and navigation to provide turn-by-turn directions as Smith drove the busy to a nearby Walmart. 

By that point in the time, the tornado had caused damage in the area. Much of the power was out in the area. When the bus arrived at the El Dorado Walmart, Smith and Cole made sure all the students were safely inside before parking the bus (according to the bus company). 

No one in the group was injured and after getting the all-clear, the choir made it to the competition. Here’s wha Smith had to say: 

“I’d like to say thank you to Thomas for designing and manufacturing such a strong machine. That bus really took a beating that day, but it help up well.”


At a school board meeting on the 9th May, the district honoured Smith, Cole, and the three students who helped guide the bus to safety.  You can find all our coverage on the destructive tornado here

RELATED: School security cameras capture wrath of Andover, Kansas EF-3 tornado 

Stay tuned to Discover Tornadoes for more tornado news, information, and more. 

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