UPDATE: Bus driver follows her instincts, saves kids before bus - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Bus driver follows her instincts, saves kids before bus catches fire

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UPDATE: An eastern Iowa bus driver is speaking out, after her quick-thinking saves a group of children, moments before a bus goes up in flames.

Juanita Hill has been driving school buses for 10 years.

She says, "I use all my senses when I am driving the bus, because you need to pick up on different things."

On Tuesday, something just didn't feel right behind the wheel. She pulled over in Tama and turned off the engine, a move many say made all the difference.

Hill says, "I started smelling something and then a lady came running up to my door and told me the bottom of the buss was on fire."

11 students were on the bus at the time, majority preschoolers. 

"You care about them just like they were your own kids...I worry about them," she says.

She didn't panic or think twice. 

She says, "I stood up and told everyone to get off the bus!"

Within minutes, flames took over the bus leaving behind extensive damage. The superintendent of South Tama Community School District is calling her a hero, after she followed her instincts and pulled over.

Mary Jones told her, "You are our hero. Our community supports you and we appreciate the actions you took so quickly."

Hill says it's all in a day's work.

"I am just doing my job, that's my job. I have to get them to school and home as safe as I can. I do everything I can do to keep them safe," she says.

Thankfully, the preschoolers  did not see the bus go up in flames. Hill called for another bus immediately after pulling over. 

Hill also credits the school for their bus fire drills, saying the preschoolers knew exactly what to do as they waited for their second bus.

Updated by: Lauren Moss


Everyone is safe after an Iowa school bus catches on fire.  Flames could be seen from the South Tama school Tuesday afternoon.

Police posted on Facebook, saying "Good Job South Tama Schools for smart thinking and getting all the children off the bus."

There is some damage to the bus, but luckily no injuries.  Police believe the fire started due to an electrical issue.

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