NJ man named AAA’s ‘Real Hero of the Road’ for his actions after deadly school bus crash

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A New Jersey tow truck company owner was honored Tuesday for his heroic actions after a school bus crashed on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive last year.

The crash happened in May 2018. A school bus full of Paramus elementary school students was attempting to make a U-turn on the highway when a dump crash crashed into it. A student and teacher were killed and dozens more injured.

Mike Benson says that he watched the crash happen and rushed out to do what he could to help save lives. It is why AAA presented him with the “Real Hero of the Road” award.

“It’s just something that happened. I was in the right place at the right time to help,” Benson said, while getting emotional during the award ceremony.

RELATED: Community marks 1 year since deadly school bus crash on I-80 
RELATED: Dad of girl killed in I-80 bus crash teams with Gottheimer in push for bus safety 

Benson owns Parsippany-based Powder Mill Towing. His friend and colleague Sonny Bhinsen nominated him for the award.

“Definitely an unsung hero. I gotta say that. He goes above and beyond,” Bhinsen says.

After the crash occurred, Benson parked his town truck on the highway to block oncoming traffic. Then he says that he ran to the bus to help.

“I pulled a couple of kids out from under the bus, then crawled underneath the bus and went inside and cut some kids out of their seatbelts,” he says.

Benson also performed CPR on one of the children, saving that child’s life.

“As far as AAA is concerned, he's a real hero of the road and I think it's day in and day out he's out there doing that type of work along with service providers across the country,” says AAA director Bob Huffman.

Ford also sponsored the award, so Benson will receive a new Ford pickup truck. He also recently won the “Outstanding EMS Action by a Citizen” award by the New Jersey Department of Health.

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