Pregnant school bus driver praised for safely evacuating several students before fire engulfed bus

Francis Akhalbey June 05, 2023
Imunek Williams managed to evacuate several students from a school bus before it caught fire -- Images via WISN

A pregnant Milwaukee bus driver, who managed to safely evacuate several students from a bus before it caught fire, said she’s grateful no one was hurt, as that was her “biggest concern.” According to WISN, Imunek Williams has since been praised for her heroics following the May 31 incident.

“I’m still kind of shocked after seeing the aftermath of the bus,” she said. The expectant mother was carrying out her bus driver duties, picking up and transporting the students to the Milwaukee Academy of Science when she smelled something odd during the trip.

“I started to smell something funny at the stoplight, and I just thought it was normal smoke coming from another car because I always smell smoke or weird smells,” Williams recalled. “But then as I started to drive more, the smell and the smoke started to get thicker.”

Williams ultimately decided to stop the bus after she nearly downplayed her instincts. That eventually proved to be a crucial decision. “I was like, OK, let’s just get off the bus,”  said Williams. “I just told the kids, let’s get off. I evacuated the bus, made sure everyone was off, and made them line up against a gate. As soon as we stepped off the bus, I turned around and the bus was just… in flames.”

Shortly after the incident, Milwaukee fire officials said there wasn’t anyone on the bus when it got engulfed in flames. Williams was later taken to a hospital for a medical assessment – she and her unborn child were declared healthy. She also said she’s grateful she managed to safely evacuate the kindergarten and high school students.

“Honestly, it feels good seeing the kids this morning and having them thank me, the school thanking me,” she told WISN. “It just feels good that I was able to get them off and no one was hurt. That’s just my biggest concern because if it was my kid on the bus, I would want the bus driver to do the exact same thing.”

Williams, who returned to duty the day after the incident, also said the students were not expecting to see her when she picked them up last Thursday morning. “They were like, ‘Oh you’re back? You didn’t get burned up?’ I said ‘No, I’m still here,'” she said.

Williams is expected to welcome a baby boy in August. Authorities are currently investigating what caused the bus fire. 

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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