School bus driver lauded for evacuating students during fire

Paramus school bus driver Jose Rodriguez safely evacuated 22 students after his bus caught on fire.

Paramus school bus driver Jose Rodriguez safely evacuated 22 students after his bus caught on fire. (5/24/16)

PARAMUS - A quick-thinking bus driver was able to safely get all his students to safety after a school bus caught fire Monday in Paramus.

Jose Rodriguez has been a driver for the Jordan Bus Company for about 20 years. He says that his training is what kept him calm and collected when the bus’ engine caught fire.

“I slowly left the school. The bus was good. Everything was running good,” he says.

Rodriguez had 22 high school students on the bus and was heading down Spring Valley Road in Paramus when the engine started to smoke.

He says that he immediately stopped the bus and helped evacuate all the students. Within seconds after they got outside, the bus burst into flames.

"It proved that our training was there.  He was focused, he saw the smoke coming out, he pulled over right away and right away he alerted the kids,” says safety director Wilston Almanzar.

Rodriguez says that he isn’t a hero, and just did what he was trained to do.

“When I’m driving, they’re safe in my hands,” he says. “I take them home.”

The bus company tells News 12 New Jersey that drivers undergo monthly safety drills, with stressful scenarios like bus fires.

State officials are examining the school bus to find out why the engine caught fire.

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