Being a bus driver is much more than just keeping commuters and other drivers safe. It also involves interacting with different people daily and handling the stress of this job.
Bus drivers, particularly school bus drivers, are expected to be role models, especially for youngsters. As such, school bus drivers should set good examples that encourage social responsibility development among the students who ride their buses.
However, some bus drivers go beyond their sworn duty. Here are a few bus drivers who filled the pages of local papers and inspired many people through their heroic deeds.
March 12, 1941, Robert Diedrich was driving nine schoolchildren in Oxnard, California, when a terrible windstorm felled power lines that confined the bus he was driving. After quieting the children, Diedrich, ignoring his own safety, went down from the bus and lifted the power lines from the ground. He was awarded a “handsome medal” for his heroism.
On March 3, 1953, Bernard Jakubkowski saved himself and 60 schoolchildren from a bus fire in Michigan City, Indiana. A gasoline tanker and a cattle truck collided, resulting in an explosion. That explosion set the rear part of the nearby school bus on fire, prompting the Jakubkowski to evacuate the schoolchildren from the bus. He made sure that all his passengers escaped the blaze. “None of the children was hurt,” the United Press reported.
Seventeen-year-old Charles Barber, a school bus driver, saved 35 high school students in Lynchburg, Virginia, on May 24, 1959. He was a substitute driver when the incident happened.
While driving, Barber’s brakes failed on a steep grade. The Associated Press reported that Barber “wrenched the gearshift into low and swerved to the right” just in time. The students were on their way to a dance party at the time. While it isn’t clear whether or not they made it to the event that evening, the AP noted that the students “danced beside the road” while waiting for another bus to take them.
Owosso, Michigan, school bus driver Vanessa Eaton rescued 47 children from a railroad incident on February 7, 1986. She evacuated the kids from the downtown railroad tracks just before a freight train smashed into their stalled school bus.
For the students themselves, it was a traumatic experience. The Associated Press reported that some students – four grade schoolers, two middle schoolers, and one high schooler – decided to go home for the rest of the day.
On January 20, 2000, 41-year-old bus driver George Schierer saved five students from his bus before a fire completely engulfed it. All of the five students had disabilities, with two of them in wheelchairs secured to the interior of the bus.
When Schierer noticed smoke billowing from the dashboard, he ordered the three non-disabled students to get off the bus while extracting the second of the other two using a wheelchair lift. They all got off the bus just in time before an electrical fire broke out.
An unnamed school bus driver
An unnamed female school bus driver saved a student before being hit by a passing car in New Carlisle, Ohio (20 miles north of Dayton) on February 23, 2023.
The driver stopped to drop the student off. As the student was about to get off the bus, the driver noticed a speeding car ready to pass on the bus’s right.
She shouted, “Whoa, wait, wait, no!” before grabbing the student by his backpack and jerking him back from the door to safety.
Tecumseh Local Schools, a school district in New Carlisle, shared the video of the driver’s heroic actions, praising her quick-thinking actions and further raising awareness about bus safety.
Heroes behind the wheel
School bus drivers are the often-overlooked heroes of public transportation. They are on the front lines daily, providing safe and efficient transportation to millions of people. However, some have done remarkable feats that brought them to local fame and inspired many.
If you have the forethought and ability to avoid road hazards or instances like those listed above, consider a job as a Pennsylvania school bus driver. You can learn about available positions by visiting https://schoolbushero.com/.