A courageous bus driver in Florida is being hailed a hero after guiding 16 elementary school students safely off a burning bus.
The driver, from Broward County, whose name has not been released, was on her daily route driving students home from Nova Blanche Forman Elementary School , on Thursday afternoon when the engine caught fire. She did not think twice and jumped into action. Witnesses who spoke with Miami news station WSVN, described the scene as “unbelievable.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” area resident Maria Velez told the outlet. “When I saw this, oh, my heart was just – I was just hoping there were no kids involved.”
But there were children involved, and fortunately they were all safe and sound thanks to the driver. She kept her cool, brought the bus to a stop and directed them all to a nearby parking lot. Tamarac Police and Fire Rescue responded to the scene just after 4:15 p.m. The bus was already empty and up in flames by then.
“The 16 children we found in excellent condition, since evacuating from a school bus that was on fire. Each child was calm, cool and collected, the driver was in control when spoken to some 10 minutes after the fire began,” a spokesperson for the Tamarac Fire Department told Yahoo Lifestyle. “The driver did a great job, not only getting them off safely but keeping them safe following the evacuation.”
Onlooker Bobby Ziady, posted photos and a video of the fire to his Facebook.
Witnesses who watched the scene were horrified.
“It was high, and from over there, I could see it coming from the front of the bus,” said area resident Rupa Vishnu. Just after 5 p.m., students were transferred to another school bus to take them to their destinations. The fire was eventually extinguished and the bus was covered in foam to prevent re-ignition before being towed away. 7News cameras captured the vehicle’s charred front cab and engine area.
The vehicle has been declared a total loss. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.