School bus driver risks her life and saves 40 students from burning bus: “I did what I did because I love my kids”

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A Florida bus driver’s quick thinking and bravery helped save dozens of children from a burning bus. It had only been a while since Janet O’Connell began her route on Tuesday afternoon when she suddenly noticed smoke coming from the hood of the bus. Without a moment of delay, O’Connell pulled over and sprang into action.

Imagine Schools at West Melbourne told CBS affiliate WKMG-TV that O’Connell began evacuating the kids, who ranged from kindergarteners to sixth-grade students. “This afternoon we had an electrical issue on one of our school buses that resulted in the bus having to pull over and evacuate. The bus did end up catching fire,” revealed the school in a statement shared on social media.

“We are blessed that everyone is safe,” they added before applauding O’Connell for the safety of all 40 students who were aboard the bus. “This is due to the quick actions of our driver, Ms. Janet, and the students. We are proud that our students showed how they are leaders of great character as they assisted one another,” it continued.

School principal Brian DeGonzague had nothing but praise for the driver. “When there’s a child in need, she steps up,” noted DeGonzague. Despite being hailed for her actions, DeGonzague said that O’Connell “doesn’t want the spotlight on her.” Speaking to WKMG-TV, the principal added, “When I spoke to her about it, she said, ‘Brian, I did what I did because I love my kids.’ What she did was pretty incredible,” noted DeGonzague.

Shortly after the vehicle caught on fire, the Palm Bay Fire Rescue arrived at the scene. They even shared pictures of the terrifying moment which shows the bus engulfed in flames. The fire ended up causing considerable damage to both the interior and exterior of the vehicle. The Palm Bay Fire Rescue later shared a statement on Facebook that read, “Shortly after 330 PM this afternoon, B-shift crews from Station 3 were dispatched to a school bus on fire.”

“Crews arrived to find it heavily involved with fire. Fortunately, all 40 kids and the driver had evacuated the bus. No injuries were reported,” revealed the post. Social media users immediately took to the comment section to applaud the bus driver. “Great job by the bus driver for getting the kids off the bus, the kids for cooperating and PBFD for getting the fire under control quickly! I can imagine there was a high degree of panic but cooler heads prevailed…Amen!!” wrote one.

“My kids were on that bus! Thank God for Ms. Janet getting everyone off safely! The parents are working on doing something for her. She is very humble and doesn’t want the spotlight on her! So grateful for her!” shared another.

Cover image source: Facebook | Palm Bay Fire Rescue