Bus driver Renita Smith is being hailed as a hero when she helped 20 students escape an inferno that engulfed the bus.
Her courage was lauded by the neighbour’s who witnessed the incident as well as everyone who read about her bravery.
‘Mommy mode’ engaged
Smith says she’d just made her third or fourth stop on her route when the bus started to smoke and the lights on the dash started to flash.
She prepared to call for backup, but then looked in the rearview mirror — flames were coming from the back of the bus.
“I put the mic back down, undid my seatbelt, jumped up, got my babies, and got off,” she told ABC News in a 2016 story. “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.”
Neighbors witnessed the driver’s bravery
Fazlul Kabir saw the plumes of black smoke from the bus first-hand and said he and other neighbors were astonished at what Smith did to help the kids.
“The bus was completely destroyed by the fire,” Kabir told ABC News. “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.”
Duty not just as a driver, but as a human
Lisa Maitland, a student on the bus said she had no idea about the fire until someone yelled, “Fire!”
“When I was smelling the smoke, it smelled like a rubber kind of gas,” she told ABC affiliate WJLA-TV. “I felt scared. I was about to cry but my brother did instead, so I helped him.”
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the blaze, which police said may have started “near one of the rear wheels.”
For Smith, making sure the kids were okay is something anyone in her position would do — or at least they should.
“When I’m driving them, you’re my children until I drop you off to your biological parents. I have to handle each child with care, as a mommy would her own, so that’s what I did,” she said.
“That’s what I hope any human being would do for any child.”
The power of Mommy Mode
When danger confronts us, it can be extremely hard to know how to react — and certainly running into a burning anything isn’t everyone’s first instinct. But remarkably, that’s what this bus driver did. She allowed her maternal instincts to trump any fear she might have been feeling, and thanks to her, all the kids were safe, proving how powerful “mommy mode” really is.
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Courage is found in unlikely places
A minute of courage can save a life.