Hero Driver Saves 20 Kids From Burning Bus
'My biggest reward is my babies are safe': Maryland bus driver Renita Smith
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2016 11:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you want any bus driver taking your kids to and from school, it's Renita Smith. That's likely the feeling of nearly two dozen sets of parents in Maryland's Prince George's County after Smith yanked their children off a school bus that burst into flames Monday, ABC News reports. Smith had made just a few stops on her afternoon run in College Park when she heard beeping and saw smoke. But when she stopped the bus to call for help, her heart stopped at the sight of flames in her rearview mirror. "I … undid my seatbelt, jumped up, got my babies, and got off," she says, adding that after she got all of the kids off the bus, the entire vehicle became engulfed in black smoke and flames. "I felt scared," a student on the bus tells WJLA. "I was about to cry but my brother did instead, so I helped him."

Local residents rushed to the scene to help escort the 20 schoolchildren from Glenarden Woods Elementary School to safety. But Smith, a mother of two, was still uneasy, WUSA reports. She feared one of the younger kids may have dozed off on the ride home and was still on the bus—so she ran back inside. "She … checked each seat to see if any of the students were left there," a resident at the scene tells ABC. "It's a fairly long bus." Fire officials say there were no injuries, per the AP, and investigators are looking into the fire, which they believe started near one of the back wheels. "My biggest reward is my babies are safe," Smith tells WUSA. "They're my children until I drop them off to their biological parents. … I did what moms do." (A sadder ending for another heroic bus driver.)