Maryland bus driver Renita Smith was on her third stop of the afternoon when something unusual happened. Her bus, which had been running fine, started emitting a beeping noise from the dashboard. When Smith stopped the vehicle, she smelled smoke. She told ABC News that her first instinct was to radio in to report the problem. Then, a glance in her rearview mirror changed everything: she saw flames shooting from the side of the bus. Smith quickly sprang into action.
“I put the mic back down, undid my seatbelt, jumped up, got my babies and got off,” she told ABC News. “Once we got off, neighbors kicked right into ‘Mommy mode,’ as I call it, and helped the kids get to a safe haven. When that was going on, I ran back onto the bus to make sure there was no children on the bus. … By the time I got to the last step on the bus, it just went up in smoke.”
Smith got ALL 20 kids off the bus within seconds, and within minutes, she realized how close they had all come to serious harm.
Fazlul Kabir, a motorist who stopped to help, told ABC News, “The bus was completely destroyed by the fire. Without [Smith], the school children couldn’t be actually saved. … She went inside for the very last time. She went inside and checked each seat to see if any of the students were left there. … It’s a fairly long bus actually. It’s not a small bus. She checked if everyone was out and nobody was inside. … She’s brave.”
In the end, Smith says, her actions were instinctual. “I’m a mom,” she said, “I did what a mom would do.”
I know a LOT of parents are super-grateful that Smith followed those mom instincts and moved FAST to get her “babies” off that bus and to safety. Great work, Ms. Smith! Your passengers and your school district (not to mention your own family!) are SO blessed to have you on board!