A 13-year-old Manitoba boy is being hailed as a hero after he walked through a snowstorm to get help for 29 fellow students stranded in a school bus.
Alexi Catellier was the oldest student on the bus, which became stuck in the snow on the side of a rural road near the community of Sandilands during the storm on Oct. 4.
The bus, which had students ranging in age from five to 13, was stuck for about 5 ½ hours.
"At one point, most of the kids had cried themselves to sleep because they were hungry, they tired, they were thirsty, wanting their parents," said Catellier.
He and two classmates melted snow into empty bottles when they ran out of water.
In the meantime, the bus driver was trying to free the wheels of the bus from the snow. He would dig away then get back on the bus and attempt to drive out, but the bus would slip further into deeper snow.
As night fell, Catellier set out on foot to look for help. It was about 8 p.m., nearly five hours after they had been picked up from school.
"The way the wind was blowing and with the snow it was freezing cold and I was just wearing running shoes, track pants, a thin sweater and a little fall jacket," he recalled.
He eventually came across a man who then notified CN Rail workers nearby.
Catellier went back to the bus and, along with two others, escorted some of the young children — carrying some — to a nearby home so they could warm up and use the washroom.
The CN Rail workers later came along and pulled the bus out of the snow.
The bus was back on the road shortly after 9 p.m. and by the time all students were back home, it was nearly midnight.
Catellier's mom, Tatiana, said she's proud of her son but wants a review by the school division of what happened.
Sandilands is located about 100 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg.