First Posted: 5/9/2009
CLINTON Serving not only as a first grade teacher assistant and a bus driver, Union Elementary employee Julie Lamb can add local hero to her resume.
During her regular bus route Monday afternoon, Lamb said, she started to smell smoke as she approached a passengers stop.
I stopped at a childs stop and smelt smoke, were her exact words, adding that the youngsters claimed to smell it also.
Because of the area surrounding her route, which at this point was on Edmond Matthis Road, Lamb just assumed it was a brush fire or controlled burning; however, she did check her gages just to be sure, she said, before pursing the next stop.
Once she arrived at the next stop, she said she opened the door to let the child out as usual, however, something out of the ordinary was seeping through the doorway.
I saw smoke coming up into the bus from the exit door, Lamb recalled from Mondays abrupt fire.
Immediately, Lamb said, she put on her emergency flashers and approached the door to determine the exact location of the smoke. At this point, she added, no fire was visible.
I told the children I was going to check and to stay calm, she remembered telling her bus load of roughly 20 students, ranging from Kindergarten to fifth grade.
According to Lambs recollection, once she reached the door, a man, John Peterson, ran up to the door to inform Lamb that her bus was, low and behold, on fire.
At this point, she got back onto the bus and told the children to exit, Lamb shared.
Although the bus seemed to only be smoking from the inside, after everyone was off the bus, the fire was visible, a few students stated.
Fourth grader DreShawn Spearman revealed even though it was a think fast situation, he wasnt scared.
Most of the little kids look up to me; so, basically, I was trying to make sure all the kids were off safely, Spearman conveyed, adding that he also serves as a bus monitor to help Lamb.
After the children were all off the bus, Lamb continued, I got back on the bus to make sure no one was still on the bus (under the chairs or stuck in the back).
Once she confirmed that no students had been left behind, Lamb herself exited the bus and started moving the kids to a safer area with the help of Peterson.
It wasnt two minutes after everyone got off the bus that it exploded, Lamb recalled of the horrifying bang, adding that several community members claimed to have heard the blast.
In addition to Peterson, Lamb revealed that another man, Max Tew, showed up to help get the kids across the road and to safety.
It was a blessing they (Peterson and Tew) were there because they guided the kids while I made sure everyone was off of the bus, Lamb praised the two men.
Although some of the kids were scared, Lamb explained that they were surprisingly collective.
I reassured the kids that we were OK, and everyone was off of the bus. I didnt panic at all because I knew that I had gone on the bus again and checked, Lamb said.
If you were there, Spearman chimed in, you could see no one would have survived (if left on the bus).
Thursday at school, several of the students were given the chance to watch the video that aired on WRAL, and according to Kindergartner David Spearman and first grader David Sanchez, the windows were blown off and the yellow paint from the outside had partially melted.
Lamb duly noted that while the aftermath was horrendous, the kids never saw fire on the bus.
They did everything a student should do, Lamb said on the students behavior before concluding. The kids are the real heroes because they listened and they were calm.
Although the bus is completely destroyed from the explosion, Lamb confirmed that no persons were injured in the mysterious bus fire.