CNN reported that school bus driver Kevin McKay, on the job only a few short months, drove nearly two dozen children through smoke-filled roads as the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history threatened a school.
Students were stranded at Ponderosa Elementary School in Paradise, California amid the spreading Camp Fire, and family members were unable to drive into the area to pick them up. That’s when McKay drove into action, according to the article.
McKay, two teachers, and 22 students were reportedly stuck in gridlock traffic and heavy smoke-filled roads after leaving the school. The trip to safety took them five hours.
McKay and the teachers used their emergency training and even created a new plan on the fly to keep children safe. When smoke started to fill the bus, McKay took off his shirt and tore it into pieces, dousing the pieces with water and instructed the students to cover their faces with the clothing and breath through it.
He also reviewed with the students how to use emergency exits, first aid kits and the fire extinguisher. McKay paired little kids with older kids, took roll and got all phone numbers.
During the drive, McKay also picked up an elementary school teacher whose car had broken down on the side of the road.
All students were later safely reunited with their families. The town of Paradise, however, was completely lost to the Camp Fire.
At this report, a total of 77 people were confirmed dead and still, hundreds of people were missing or unaccounted for. Paradise Unified School District said it was collecting information to determine where its students are currently located.