It’s quite ordinary for school bus drivers to strictly follow protocols to keep the children safe, but when a driver goes beyond his duty for the sake of keeping kids safe from harm, the act needs to be acknowledged.
Such was the case with Kevin McKay.
Kevin is a school bus driver for Ponderosa Elementary School. It was supposed to be another regular working day but when the bus he was driving reached the school, he noticed the sky turning dark and it wasn’t long before pockets of fire were burning all around.
Most of the students were already picked up by their parents before the fire could get worse, but he still had about 22 children on the bus with him waiting for their parents to arrive. Since the fire was unrelenting, Kevin had to do something immediately to protect the children.
Kevin has had previous experience with fire before. So, it’s no wonder he was the one most concerned about the situation, but the ones he witnessed in the past was nothing compared to this one since the fire was coming from all directions.
Lucky for Kevin, his girlfriend, mom, and sister already evacuated to safety early in the morning. With that, he was able to focus his attention on the kids’ safety.
Smoke began to fill the bus quicker than Kevin could have ever imagined. They were already considering to abandon the bus, but the kids were already having a hard time breathing. He immediately took one of his shirts and asked the other teachers to help him tear it apart. After dousing the torn shirt pieces with water, Kevin asked each child to take a bit and hold it to their nose so they can breathe.
As they were making their way through, they saw some abandoned and burned cars blocking the road where they also picked up a passenger. She is a preschool teacher as well but from another school.
It took him about five hours to keep everyone safe, but in spite of this life-threatening crisis, Kevin was able to drive the bus into a more secure area.
As much as they wanted the nightmare to be over, the reality that they could still lose their lives at any moment looms. The teachers had to pair the bigger kids with the little ones. They took note of everyone’s phone numbers, got the first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
The children were pretty brave too. One of them even admitted that she had to imagine she was at her happy place several times so that she can stay positive despite the situation.
They just stayed in the vehicle for a few more hours when the other parents started to arrive to fetch their children. Everyone was so happy to be reunited with their parents.
The campfire that caused the accident has been tagged as the most destructive and deadliest fire California has ever seen. There were approximately 76 people who were killed as reported so far and about 1,200 people who are yet to be found. It was almost a miracle that the 22 children, along with the teachers and the principal survived.
A large percent of the thanks go to Kevin. Still, he remains to be modest about it, saying that it was all part of his duties as a school driver to keep his passengers safe.
But we consider Kevin McKaye to be a real hero.
Watch the hero being interviewed by CBS.
Image grab via CNN