A school bus driver is solely responsible for the safety and well-being of the kiddos on his or her bus. On 99.998% of school days, it’s just another day. Other times it requires thinking outside the box and sometimes even heroic actions.
Such is the case of a Milwaukee school bus driver named Imunek Williams. While 6-months pregnant, she pulled over upon smelling smoke. By the time she got the three-dozen plus kids off and ensured the bus was empty, the vehicle was engulfed by flames and smoke.
WLWT has the story (and videos that aren’t embeddable):
A pregnant bus driver from Wisconsin is being called a hero after her quick thinking saved 37 kids from a bus fire Wednesday morning.
“I’m still kind of shocked after seeing the aftermath of the bus,” Imunek Williams said…
“I started to smell something funny at the stoplight, and I just thought it was normal smoke coming from another car, because I always smell smoke or weird smells,” Williams said. “But then as I started to drive more, the smell and the smoke started to get thicker.”
Williams almost ignored her intuition and kept driving another two minutes to the school, but chose instead to pull over. It would end up being a life-saving decision…
Meanwhile, a pucker factor incident happened at my kids’ school on the next to last week of school in Bloomington, Illinois.
Since the above photo was taken at the school, the driver of the first bus in line line now angles his bus out into the street to block oncoming cars from driving past them. That’s because it had been a fairly regular occurrence for drivers to pass the loading buses, paying no attention to the flashing red lights.
This obviously created quite a hazard for kids or parents who might emerge from between the buses for whatever reason. And if you know 3- and 4-year-olds, they aren’t always predictable.
At the morning dismissal, the driver of a pickup truck tried to go around a line of five buses from the rear. All had their stop signs out and red lights flashing. When he saw he couldn’t get around them, he started to back up. Of course, the buses were honking their horns at him in a chorus of, “Hey dummy, stop trying to go around me!”
The driver in the rear-most bus said something to them. They will usually tell drivers that they have their license plate and will report them. Whatever the bus driver said set off the passenger in the truck.
The passenger got out of the truck, screaming in anger. I heard him shouting something like “What the **** did you just say to me? M***** ****** I’ll **** your world up!”
Mr. Passenger was easily 280 pounds or so and 6’3″ in his 30s or early 40s. He looked like he played football years before. Meanwhile, the bus driver was a retiree male of slight build.
I fumbled with my phone and called 911 as the threats of violence keep coming. I’m more than a little concerned that the very angry man might be armed. Fortunately for everyone he wasn’t.
I told the dispatcher – who wanted to put me on hold – that police were needed out front of the school because of a fight brewing and then hung up. Why did I hang up? I wanted to focus on the dynamic situation and not play twenty questions with a dispatcher. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to wait around on hold. I also wanted both hands free.
At the same time, teachers continued to bring students out to load while this very angry man was loudly hurling all manner of threats and invectives at the driver, challenging him to come out and fight. The school staff was largely oblivious to the escalating situation.
At one point I saw the man reach for the bus driver through the window as if he was going to try to pull the old man out and pound him.
My first inclination early on was, “This isn’t my problem.”
Then I saw the principal, a slight man about 5′ 9″ tall on a good day. I pointed at the problem To his credit, he immediately interceded. At first I was afraid he was going to get the beatdown of his life, but he managed to keep the angry man from going around the bus to get onboard and assault the driver inside the bus.
During all of this, the driver had closed the entry door to keep the guy off of his bus and was frantically on the phone pleading for help with 911. Meanwhile the teachers were stacking up on the sidewalk outside the bus waiting for the driver to open the doors so they could put the kiddos on the bus.
I thought to myself, “Hello! Aren’t any of you paying attention?” Looking back, I think the teachers were all just on autopilot.
By now, I’d reconsidered my earlier, “It’s not my circus or my monkeys” evaluation and decided that I couldn’t let one of the school bus drivers get his ass beaten down in front of the school. Or the principal. Or the children. Not while I was there. They’re looking out for my kids’ safety. The least I could do is look out for them as a good guy with a gun.
Just about that time, one of my kids was presented to me by his teacher (gee thanks) and 911 decided to call back.
“You called 911 a couple of minutes ago?”
No crap, Sherlock.
“Yes I did. I told you we needed police out front of Sarah Raymond School right effing now. The problem hasn’t gone away.” Click.
I definitely wasn’t in the mood to chat with a 911 operator while holding a kid in one hand and seeing my second son approaching with his teacher from 30 feet away.
I got my second son and took them both, one in each hand, to my car. By the time I’d gotten the kids in their seats the principal had talked the angry man over to the far side of the street. I took that as a good sign. In fact, they looked as though they were walking up to the sidewalk across the street. A better sign.
At this point I drove away with the kiddos to our destination. I figured I’d done my part. By now it had been about five-plus minutes from my first 911 call and still no police.
A couple of days later I saw the principal and patted him on the back for a job well done in deescalating the situation. He admitted he didn’t know how it was going to go. “I just told the guy who I was and that my job was to keep the kids safe. Then I asked him if we could talk about what had happened on the other side of the street.”
Masterfully handled. The principal has some big cajones, I’ll give him that. The very angry and agitated man was easily twice his size. I’m glad there is at least someone at the school who will put himself between the kids and danger.
I told the principal, “If it’s any consolation, I wasn’t going to let him beat you too badly before I took care of him.” He knows I’m (legally) armed on that public sidewalk outside the school every day. Last semester when he learned of my armed status he was a little less than thrilled, but that’s another story.
He chuckled and thanked me. “Thanks. I think.”
Turns out the delayed police response was caused by most officers out at call about a melee at the junior high school. One girl who reportedly had hidden a straight razor in her bra was arrested and others may be charged. Yes, the junior high school.
I don’t know what’s in the water this spring, but holy cow.