It started out as a regular day for school bus driver Reneita Smith from College Park, Maryland, driving her kids to school like she did every day.
That is, until the school bus she was driving, the bus filled with 20 elementary school children, shot up in flames.
Realizing what was happening, Reneita’s motherly instincts immediately took over.
“I opened my door, took off my seat belt, and I got my babies off that bus,” she said in an NBC Washington report.
Thankfully, the incident happened at a residential area, and neighbors were quick to help escort children from the burning bus.
One neighbor, Lucy Kilin, recalled seeing flames surround the bus. “This fire was going too fast,” she said. “I had a little extinguisher. It was too late. I couldn’t do anything.”
As a mom herself, Reneita knew the importance of the children’s safety, and made sure no one was harmed.
“I ran back onto the bus to make sure that every seat was clear,” she said. “As I’m driving that bus, they’re my babies. I’m their mom until I drop them off to their biological moms.”
After the fire erupted, the members of the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company & Rescue Squad were alerted and responded to the scene.
According to Mark Brady, a spokesperson for Prince George’s County Fire Department, although the cause of the fire was not clear, no one was harmed.
The news of Reneita’s bravery immediately spread throughout the neighborhood, and she received an outpouring of support from parents who owe their children’s lives to her.
Yet despite her incredible feat, she is brushing off the praise given her.
“I have people calling me a hero, and I say that I’m just a mom,” she said.
In a Facebook post, council member at City of College Park Fazlul Kabir profusely thanked Reneita.
“Not only Reneita took each one of the 20 kids from the bus one by one, but also went into the empty bus again to check if everyone was out, while it was still burning,” his post said. “Thankfully, all the school kids went home safe.”
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