Hero driver gets kids off Illinois school bus before train strikes

ORLAND PARK, Ill. — A bus driver is being heralded a hero after safely removing five elementary school children from the stalled vehicle just moments before a commuter train struck it Friday afternoon.

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“The investigation we did shows the driver stopped at the tracks as required to do so, but when she started the bus to cross, the bus stalled with the front end of the bus over the tracks,” Orland Park Fire Chief Michael Schofield told WFLD-TV.

“The gate came down on top of the bus, and the driver then quickly escorted the five children off of the bus to safety minutes before the Metra train hit the front of the bus,” he said.

Schofield credited the driver, whose name has not been released publicly, for acting quickly to keep those in her charge safe.

The crash occurred at around 2:30 p.m. and involved a Metra train running the Southwest line, WGN-TV reported.

“It was incredible thinking by the bus driver. Our students were very calm through the process as well, following their training and safety processes,” Paul Smith, principal of St. Michael School, told the TV station, noting the driver had only about 30 seconds to act.

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“Everyone was luckily able to go home today safely, which is fantastic. She really stepped up to make sure they were taken care of and they were the priority at that moment,” Smith added.

Four of the five students on board the bus at the time of the incident attend St. Michael School, he confirmed to WGN-TV.

No injuries were reported in the crash, WFLD-TV reported.

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