Hero Bus Driver Who Evacuated 56 Students From Fire Shares Her Story
A quick thinking bus driver saved the lives of 56 school children in under a minute by quickly and calmly evacuating them before the bus burned down. Teresa Stroble — a Duncan, South Carolina driver and teaching assistant who avoided the tragedy — has been hailed as a hero by Superintendent Scott Turner.
“Hero!! Ms. Teresa Stroble,” Turner tweeted. “She evacuated 56 students in under a minute. God bless her. So grateful for her quick action.”
It began the morning of May 9 as the students were heading to Duncan Elementary, Beech Springs Intermediate and Byrnes High School, according to spokesperson Melissa Robinette with Spartanburg County School District 5.
Teresa Strobel shared her side of the story on Facebook in an interview with the local press — which received almost 4,000 views. She said she was prompted into action when a freshman girl spoke out.
“Our students are only allowed to speak with their inside voices,” she said. “They’re not allowed to stand or anything. So I heard the commotion and I looked up in the mirror and saw students in the back standing. A freshman said, ‘Ms. Strobel the bus is on fire.’ What made me react so fast was the student actually said the bus is on fire. When you hear that, you evacuate. High schoolers in the back helped with the younger children to make sure they were off. I give accommodations to the students because they were quiet and had the bus not been quiet we may have had a different outcome.”
Strobel hit the brakes, but knew she needed a safe place to evacuate — which turned out to be a nearby car wash.
“I told them to get off right now,” she said.
Strobel noticed the smoke as they were exiting.
“As we moved to the front of the car wash I saw a flame and called in, ‘the bus is on fire, the bus is on fire.’”
After everyone was safely off the bus, they heard a loud noise and students began crying. Strobel ushered them across the street further out of harm’s way. Teachers and volunteer parents came to help.
Teresa Strobel was relieved they could not see the flames — only the aftermath in pictures — which she avoided looking at as much as possible.
“A co-worker showed me a video of the bus burning and I had to turn my head. I think what’s keeping me is I can’t think about what might have happened. We didn’t see it so I think that’s what kept us calm. I think it helped that they did not see the bus burning.”
Superintendent Turner commended Strobel’s actions
“We are so proud of our bus driver,” Turned told South Carolina television station WSPA. “She did exactly what she was trained to do. She was calm. She kept the students calm. She made sure they were safe. They were her first priority. She’s our hero today.”
The Duncan Fire Department was called to the scene and extinguished the flames that completely charred the bus.
Teresa Strobel got back behind the wheel the very next day and modestly continued her job as usual as the school bus driver.
“I feel blessed,” she told reporters. “I went home but I went back that afternoon and rode with the students because I felt they needed to see me.”
Our District Five hero, Teresa Stroble, got a chance to share her story for the first time today about what happened when she evacuated 56 students from a burning bus this week. We're amazed at her strength and so very proud of her! Her interview in its entirety is included here. #WeAreD5
Posted by District Five Schools of Spartanburg County on Thursday, May 11, 2017