For Renita Smith, a bus driver in Prince George’s County, Maryland, driving a school bus means a lot more than shuttling snot-nosed punks from A to B. “When I’m driving them, you’re my children until I drop you off to your biological parents,” Smith told a local ABC affiliate. “I have to handle each child with care, as a mommy would her own.”
So when Smith’s bus unexpectedly began filling with smoke during her return route on Monday, her instincts instantly kicked in. “I put the mic back down, undid my seatbelt, jumped up, got my babies, and got off.”
Within minutes, the entire bus had burst into flames. Responding with the grace and speed of a seasoned firefighter, Smith evacuated all 20 of the remaining students from her bus, then went back into the flaming wreckage to perform a seat-by-seat double check to ensure that none of “her babies” had been left behind.
Smith’s heroic act has quickly begun to spread to the farthest corners of the internet, thanks to the harrowing images of the aftermath captured by Fazlul Kabir, a bystander who assisted in getting the children to safety after Smith had cleared them from her bus.
The official cause of the fire remains unknown (it is said to have originated “near one of the rear tires”), but as Kabir mentioned in a Facebook post, none of the children were harmed thanks to Smith’s quick response to what could have been a much more disastrous incident.
“We did a group hug, the tears started rolling,” said Smith. “But me, as mommy, no, I have to be strong for the babies. That’s what I hope any human being would do for any child.”
It’s probably safe to say that Smith has earned some much-needed vacation time, a raise, and possibly a statue in her honor. Maybe something like this.