South Carolina

Driver rescues 40 kids from a burning school bus, SC fire department says

SC bus driver: ‘I’m just a mother who got 40 kids off to safety’

Bernadine Reed had only driven a school bus for the Darlington County School District for 45 days when she saved 40 elementary school students from a blaze, district Superintendent Tim Newman said Jan. 23, 2019.
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Bernadine Reed had only driven a school bus for the Darlington County School District for 45 days when she saved 40 elementary school students from a blaze, district Superintendent Tim Newman said Jan. 23, 2019.

A school bus caught fire after a crash with a car in Darlington County, South Carolina Tuesday morning, according to the Palmetto Rural Fire Department’s Facebook page.

“A special shout out to the bus driver who got all the kids off the bus! No one was seriously injured in this incident!” the department said on Facebook.

bus fire 2.jpg
Fire fighters work on putting out a fire that consumed a school bus after a crash in South Carolina. Palmetto Rural Fire Department and Medical Transport

A car ran into the bus from behind, Darlington County Schools spokeswoman Audrey Childers told WBTW.

The bus driver, Bernadine Reed, saved 40 elementary school students, district superintendent Tim Newman said Wednesday, The State reported.

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After the crash Tuesday, Childers said EMS checked out all of the students, and “no injuries were reported,” according to WPDE.

The crash happened at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, and was reportedly cleared by 9:30 a.m., according to WMBF. South Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Cpl. Sonny Collins told the station “the bus was stopped at the railroad tracks. A Buick ran into the back of the bus and caught fire, which spread to the bus.”

Video of the wreck shows plumes of black smoke rapidly rising from the car wedged under the back of the bus, before flames are seen rising from the hood of the Buick.

“That’s freaking crazy,” a person taking the video can be heard saying under the wail of sirens at the dramatic looking scene.

The Buick driver was taken to the hospital, WMBF reported.

There is no word on the driver’s condition.

Collins said the Buick driver was “cited for driving too fast for the conditions,” per WPDE.

In South Carolina, the maximum punishment for a first-time violator includes a $200 fine, 30 days in jail and a six-month suspended driver’s license, according to drivinglaws.org.

Childers said the students were on their way to Brunson-Dargan and Cain Elementary schools in Darlington, and all of their parents were notified about the crash, WBTW reported.

This story has been updated to correct the number of children on the bus.

The state’s schools chief says replacing mid-90s school buses that are prone to catching on fire is a top priority, but S.C. spending on buses is expected to fall short. In 2007, state lawmakers adopted a 15-year replacement cycle that the state l

The Wichita Police Department offers tips for drivers when they see school buses. It's illegal in the United States to pass a school bus when it's stopped to unload or load children. (2017)

Fayette County bus driver Jennifer Ward and monitor Diana Becker sing to their special-needs riders to calm their anxiety about riding the bus to Northern Elementary School.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.


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