DeShan Fishel didn’t leave to take her daughter to school a hero Thursday morning. But by the time she arrived back home, she’d been called a hero dozens of times.
Fishel was driving down Dawson Forest Road in Dawson County early Thursday morning when she pulled up behind a stopped school bus.
"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 the phone, Fishel quickly 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. I couldn’t let him get away. My adrenaline was just going when I saw him not slow down," she said.
Fishel pursued the Jeep and approached the driver after he allegedly ran a stop sign at the intersection of Dawson Forest Road and Ga. 9 and stopped the vehicle.
"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 later released on $1,200 bond.
A 5-year-old boy hit 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 (Thursday night)," said the child’s uncle Romel Velasquez.
Originally transported 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 Office spokesman 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 later, 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 Omar. "He wanted to go on to school."
Fishel claims 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 at the scene.
"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,’ but at the moment I didn’t think about that. I was just thinking about the little kid," she said.
Wooten calls 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.