Bus driver who saved students from fire: “They are my responsibility”

Lee Herald Favicon 16A Lee County bus driver successfully saved a bus full of middle schoolers right before the bus burst into flames in Cape Coral Friday.

Carmen Chavez was driving a bus full of students heading to Challenger Middle School Friday morning when she heard a strange noise coming from the engine. Soon smoke began to rise from under the hood.

After Chavez had called maintenance to report the problem, the bus was engulfed in flames in minutes. The area where it caught fire is in the 700 block of Southeast 8th Street.

“I stayed calm and said to the children that we need to get off the bus as soon as we can,” Chavez said.

According to the Cape Coral Fire Department, all 22 children were evacuated successfully and without injury.

After fire fighters put out the fire, the cause was ruled accidental due to mechanical failures.

The school district claims that the fire was caused by a bad compressor in the engine. Lee County Schools said the bus seemed to be running fine after being serviced two weeks ago.

“I don’t think of myself as a hero,” Chavez said. “There’s a job that you are responsible for, and when those kids are on my bus, they are my responsibility.”

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