River Falls (WQOW) - A bus driver says he was just doing his
job, but the River Falls community is calling him a hero after reacted
quickly in a situation in which seconds really mattered.
could hear them screaming and that's why I came out and within minutes
it was from a little fire to the whole thing was on fire," says River
Falls resident, Lora James. She witnessed a unbelievable scene Thursday
morning, a school bus in her neighborhood was fully engulfed in flames.
says, "I kept thinking to myself that it was going to blow up because
it was popping from the windows and stuff and I kept thinking they're so
close, get them away. But he kept them all in a row."
The man keeping the kids in a row was Steve Linehan, the bus driver the community is calling a hero.
Hendrix's 6-year-old son was on that bus and she says, "Not only my
son, but there was about 40 kids on that bus and not a scratch on any of
After smelling something he says just wasn't "quite
right", Steve stopped the bus on Falcon Drive and immediately started
getting kids off the bus.
Linehan says, "Instincts told me that I needed to get the kids off the bus."
Riley Bonikowske was on the bus and says, "He got up and then he pulled
over and then we all got off. He told us to."
"I knew what I
had to do and I had to get all the kids off safely and I had to make
sure that all the kids were off and that's why I went to the back of the
bus, and double checked. And I was the last one off the bus, and that's
part of my job," explains Linehan.
Bonikowske says, "One person started crying but I was just scared. I was shivering."
"I don't think I'll ever forget what happened. But, I'll forever be thankful that it happened the way it did," says Linehan.
doesn't consider himself the hero, but simply the director. "The
biggest heroes in this story are the kids. They all stayed calm. They
followed direction," explains Linehan.
Linehan isn't even the
regular driver on the route, he was filling in for someone who was on
vacation. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time but the school
district believes it had something to do with the electrical system.
more very important note. Students go through evacuation training twice
a year. Everyone WQOW News 18 talked to said that was a key in getting
students off the bus quickly and safely.
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