MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The driver of a school van for kids with special needs crashed into a ditch after having a heart attack.

It happened as he was driving students from the New London-Spicer school district home in March.

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One student was still in the van and told WCCO on Monday that his Boy Scout training and love for TV crime dramas paid off.

Jeron Baalson is 16 years old and lives in Willmar.

“I asked him a question, and he didn’t respond,” Baalson said.

The tenth grader said shortly afterward, his school van slowed down and crashed into a ditch off of Kandiyohi County Road 40.

“He kind of gripped the wheel and suddenly started recessive convulsions,” Baalson said. “He was stiff.”

Baalson has autism and CPR training.

He started pumping on driver Greg Engelke’s chest and, when he didn’t respond, he rolled him out of the van, onto the ground, and kept performing CPR.

“One of the signs that kind of gave it away was the droopy eyes,” Baalson said. “When you have a heart attack, you have those droopy eyes, and pretty soon he started having seizure. I had a memory back to this Quantum Leap show. My mom said the one of the characters was having a heart attack.”

Baalson said he grabbed the van’s radio to try to call for help.

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“The first thing I said was, ‘May Day, May Day, May Day!'” he said. “It’s the first thing that came to mind because I was doing the emergency preparedness merit badge and learning the emergency distress call.”

Sig Holme is with the Palmer Bus Service and the fire chief in New London.

“I had to figure out where he was at first,” Holme said. “This particular van goes from New London to Willmar out to Norway Lake. So I was trying to figure out where he was on the route.”

Despite Baalson’s efforts, the van driver later died at a hospital.

Kevin Acquard is the principal at New London-Spicer High School.

“Jeron is a neat kid,” he said. “He tries his hardest. He knows he tried his best, and we want to make sure he knows that as well.”

Engelke was 64 years old and married, with grandkids.

“I hope he is in God’s hands,” Baalson said.

A man passing by the crash scene stopped and helped Baalson move the driver out of the van.

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The teenager has been recognized for his quick-thinking by his Boy Scout troop, the New London-Spicer school board and the American Heart Association.