California Camp Fire (Photo: Mary Ludwig)

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Nov 20, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall

"Bus Driver From Heaven" Saves 22 Kids From CA Wildfire

Kevin McKay, a bus driver for Ponderosa Elementary School, was hailed as the "bus driver from heaven" after heroically saving 22 kids and a teacher while escaping the devastating Camp Fire which continues to blaze through California.

McKay first initiated the evacuation as he saw flames rapidly advancing toward the school. He then dashed into the building, gave the order to evacuate, and began tearing his shirt into rags to soak in water for children to use to protect against smoke inhalation.

Mary Ludwig, a teacher from the school, described the terrifying inferno as total “armageddon”.

“It just kind of looked like we’d be headed into Mordor,” McKay shared with CNN.

However, once the children were loaded safely onto the bus, they hit total gridlock on the roads, severely slowing down their escape and prolonging their exposure to smoke. Many children began to feel tired and dizzy as severe smoke inhalation began to set in.

The adults did everything they could to comfort the young students as McKay slowly maneuvered the bus through the traffic jam.

One student, Charlotte Merz, 10, recalled going to her “happy place” to keep from panicking: “It was so crazy, and there were fires left and right everywhere you looked."

Completely flanked by flames, McKay and the teachers aboard considered abandoning the bus and making the rest of their escape on foot, but conditions outside the bus were just as dangerous.

As the bus continued on down the road, smoke inhalation caused other drivers to become disorientated, leading to many bumps and collisions. At one point, a car t-boned the side of the school bus. McKay spotted a woman, who turned out to be another school teacher, and offered to give her a ride. 

The teacher kept saying she was convinced she was going to die after her car broke down, Ludwig added, so they prayed together as they continued down the road.

Eventually, the bus escaped the blaze safely and all 22 children aboard were reunited with their parents, thanks in no small part to McKay. “We had the bus driver from heaven,” Ludwig said.



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