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Teacher loses both legs while shielding students

By Cai Wenjun (Shanghai Daily)

08:25, May 14, 2012

A 29-year-old teacher who was critically injured, losing both legs when she pulled students away from an out-of-control bus, was in stable but critical condition after being moved to a larger hospital.

Zhang Lili, a teacher at Jiamusi No.19 Middle School in northeastern Heilongjiang Province, was transferred after emergency surgery.

Zhang also suffered major fractures of her lumbar vertebrae and pelvis in the accident last Tuesday.

She has been called "the most beautiful teacher" by people after the accident.

The accident happened when some students were walking out of the school gate, where one van and two buses were waiting in a line to take students home.

Suddenly, the bus at the end lurched forward and hit the other bus, pushing it toward the van and a car in the opposite lane. Several students were passing between the van and the bus.

Zhang, crossing the road, rushed to the students and pulled them to safety. She was knocked down and the bus ran over her legs. Four students were lightly injured.

Zhang was rushed to a Jiamusi hospital, where doctors were forced to amputate her legs to save her life.

She was transferred to a bigger hospital in the provincial capital Harbin Saturday night in light of her critical injuries and a risk of infection.

A group of specialists sent by the Ministry of Health arrived in Heilongjiang to participate in Zhang's treatment.

Police said the driver, Xiao Yueyan, who caused the accident, knew that there were problems with the brake but still drove the bus. Xiao was talking to others while starting the engine. Her leg touched the controls unintentionally, making it lurch forward.

Xiao was detained by police for further investigation.

Zhang's actions deeply moved many people. Her students and colleagues said she loves her students and focuses on her job.

It wasn't first time that she put herself in harm's way to protect students. In 2009, Zhang took some students to visit a sick classmate. On the way, she got in between them and a bicyclist who had lost control and headed right for them. The first thing she said was, "Everybody OK?" after she got up from the ground, failing to notice her own injury, a student recalled.

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