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Driver rescued students from burning school bus

Posted May 5, 2009
Updated May 6, 2009

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— On school bus driver appreciation week, some Sampson County students are very appreciative of their bus driver.

Drive Julie Lamb quickly escorted about two dozen Union Elementary School students off her bus Monday afternoon after the vehicle caught fire.

Sampson bus driver Julie Lamb Students, parents praise bus driver's courage

"Honestly, I did not know the danger I was in. I was just doing my job," she said.

Lamb said she and the students smelled smoke, but she didn't see anything and her gauges all checked out. When she made her next stop and opened the door to let a student out, she said, she noticed gray smoke coming from under the bus.

She pulled off to the side of the road, and a man ran up to the bus.

"He said, 'Ma'am, your bus is on fire,'" she said.

So, Lamb and two bystanders escorted the children off the bus and down the street to safety. None of the students was injured.

"As we went down the fire started getting bigger and bigger," student Dreshawn Spearman said.

"If they didn't help us, we might have been not here," student Irvin Delpaz said.

Lamb then went back inside the bus one last time to make sure everybody was out.

"I walked back down the bus looking on the floor, making sure no one was under the seats," she said. "It was probably two or three minutes (later), and we heard an explosion and the whole bus was just gone."

Authorities said the fuel cells on the bus detonated in the fire, causing the explosion.

"I really never thought about the danger we were in," she said. "I never thought the bus was going to explode."

Sampson County Schools officials and local authorities were still trying to determine the cause of the fire Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Lamb was behind the wheel of a new bus, and her students brought her letters of thanks from their parents.

"The kids were the real heroes (on Monday). They were calm," she said.


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  • Mustange May 6, 2009

    This story is a perfect example of why we need to stop dogging state workers, this driver wasnt thinking about state budget woes or how short her checks going to be.She made sure by rechecking a burning bus that 24 families would be able to have dinner with their children that night,way to go you are the best.

  • sssh.. whisper May 6, 2009

    Great job by everyone! She should truly be commended for her bravery to calmly get all children off of the bus and to then return to make sure no one was hiding.

  • SweetB May 6, 2009


  • teresafrench May 6, 2009

    There are great heros amongist us well done, Ms Lamb and to the students who keep calm. Thank God for you all. You should be highly commended.

  • mikeyusmc May 6, 2009

    That is an incredible story. Great job. But here is another of the state workers the governor is taking money from. See the thanks fearless state workers get.

  • Godschild43 May 6, 2009

    Great job.She is a hero.Praise God they all got out safe.

  • thought May 6, 2009

    Great job!!!!!!! also- good job for the children who followed directions and did what was needed- I'm glad it was a happy ending

  • anneonymousone May 6, 2009

    Well done, Ms. Lamb, students, and bystanders!

  • cuteboyd May 6, 2009

    So good to hear some good news.

  • Canes Girl Forever May 6, 2009

    That's a great story with a happy ending!