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School Bus Driver Saves Children in Paradise

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November 27, 2018
Edward Smith

School Bus Driver Saves Children in Paradise

School bus driver Kevin McKay is credited with saving the lives of 22 children in Paradise. McKay, 41,  and teachers Abbie Davis, 29, and Mary Ludwig, 50, remained at the school along with the children after others had been evacuated. McKay had been working at the Ponderosa Elementary School for a few months when the Camp Fire erupted, devastating Paradise and the surrounding area.  Since his family had already been evacuated, he was able to focus exclusively on the crisis at hand. Together, the children, the teachers and McKay boarded the bus to get out of harm’s way.

Escaping the Camp Fire

The fire started at about 6:30 in the morning on November 8, and local residents had little time to escape, facing traffic gridlock, flames, and smoke in their effort to find safety. Most families had arrived at the school and picked up their children, but 22 remained behind along with second-grade teacher Mary Ludwig and kindergarten teacher Abbie Davis. With the roads blinded by smoke, the school bus driver began a trip unlike any other.

Dangers Along the Way

It was a five-hour trip to get out of danger, and the children became increasingly sleepy as the journey progressed due to the thick smoke that enveloped the town, with some of them nodding off because of it. In an effort to halt the smoke’s harmful effects, the school bus driver removed his shirt, which he and the teachers tore into strips. The strips were doused with water from a bottle of the liquid that was in the bus. Covering their noses and mouths, the children found it easier to breathe.

Travel Difficult for the School Bus Driver and His Charges

Along the way, the bus became yet another vehicle of the many caught in a traffic gridlock on the roads around Paradise.  The teachers made every effort to comfort the children as McKay drove. Accidents are a common event, but the chance of having one escalates during a fire crisis. The bus was sideswiped by another vehicle, but no one appeared hurt by the crash. The bus driver also stopped to pick up another passenger along the way, a preschool teacher who worked at a school in Biggs, whose vehicle had broken down.

Crisis Emergency Plan

The school bus driver and the teachers on board worked on an emergency plan as the journey progressed. They paired older children with younger ones and obtained contact information from them such as telephone numbers. Crisis protocol was reviewed for opening emergency exits, using the medical kit and operating the fire extinguisher.

The Outcome

It took a few hours, but in the end, thanks to the driving skills and perseverance of McKay, everyone reached safety. McKay was pleased with the outcome and went on to say modestly that keeping everyone safe is a big part of what he does as a school bus driver. The parents of the children he rescued and the families of the other passengers said he was simply a hero.

Risking Accidents in Emergency Situations

Unfortunately, emergencies happen, and it is important to exercise good judgment. Another thing that is essential is being prepared. In some cases, it is outrunning a devastating fire, and in others, it is surviving a night in a broken down vehicle. Here is a list of things that are important and easily stored in a trunk:

  • Blankets
  • Water
  • Flashlight
  • Duct tape
  • Battery operated radio
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches or a lighter
  • First aid kit
  • Work gloves
  • Paper maps
  • Reflective markers such as triangles to show others you are broken down
  • Toolkit
  • Food such as energy bars, crackers, and other items

When an Attorney Can Help

If you are on gridlocked roads in an attempt to evacuate, you may suffer injuries and loss of property. In either case, a wildfire attorney can help. He or she can investigate the cause of the damages and determine fault as well as deal with insurance company adjusters. After an emergency, you need time to heal emotionally and physically in order to move on. Let a wildfire lawyer take the burden of settling your claim off your shoulders and give you the time you need.

Related Article:

Wildfire Compensation

A California Wildfire Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a California wildfire lawyer. When you’ve suffered physical and financial loss in a California wildfire, you need the helpful insight an attorney can provide. Call me at (916) 921-6400 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. If it is more convenient to reach out online, go to my contact us page.

I’ve helped many Northern Californians obtain the compensation they deserve in all types of car accidents, wrongful death cases and traumatic brain injuries in addition to wildfire property loss and injury.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates, a forum that accepts only those who have won more than $1 million for a client.

If you are retaining an attorney, you should learn all you can about his or her practice. Look over the following pages to see what prior clients and my peers have to say about mine as well as how previous cases were resolved:

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