Driver who saved kids from burning bus speaks out
LENNOX, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - After a Lennox School District bus started on fire Wednesday morning, 12 students are safe thanks to the quick action of the bus driver.
Bus driver Russ Nelson said he heard a pop and saw a check engine light on. He immediately knew something wasn’t right.
“When I exited the bus and saw the smoke, and could smell something hot that’s when I knew it was time to get them off. It’s not the ideal temperatures to get them off but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Nelson.
Nelson says the bus was on fire within minutes of them evacuating, but his heroic actions didn’t stop until his students were out of the cold.
“In under 10 minutes, he got kids to a safe point and a transfer bus en route and getting kids on that bus, so an amazing response by him,” said Lennox School District Superintendent Chad Conaway.
“Kind of eerie looking at a burnt bus because of all the bad things that could’ve happened, but thankfully the bus driver, Russ Nelson, he acted very quickly and got all the kids off the bus so we’re very proud of his efforts,” Sgt. EJ Colshan with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office added.
Nelson said that the training he received from the district helped him know what to do.
“It definitely makes you want to look at things differently, and that ‘hey, it’s not just a drill to do a drill.’ It’s ‘train as you’re going to do it in real life,’” Nelson said.
The bus driver thanked the students on board for taking direction and moving fast. And as he sat and watched the bus turn to ashes, he couldn’t help but be grateful.
“It’s a surreal moment that ‘wow, these things do happen and that’s why we talk about bus safety and fire drills.’ Definitely could’ve turned out worse, but everything was on our side this morning,” said Nelson.
The Lennox School District said they met with the kids on the bus at school Wednesday to check on their mental and physical well-being, and the superintendent says they are all healthy.
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