A laughter-filled bus ride home last Wednesday turned into a chaotic rolling inferno.  That’s what happened in New Haven when a First Student bus from Conte West Hills School carrying 11 young students erupted in flames.

“It was a lot of smoke,” said Ryan Cheek, a good Samaritan traveling behind the bus.  “You would think that it was a house fire,” he explained.

Cheek was in the area purely by happenstance when he noticed trouble.  

“I got out of work early that day.  There was a reason why and it was to save those kids.”

The New Haven native is being praised as a hero for ignoring the danger to himself while rescuing students on the bus, some as young as five-years-old.  Cheek jumped into action, pulling students one-by-one through the back emergency door of the bus, he recounted.

“I didn’t think twice about it.  I just knew that these are somebody’s kids.  This is the next generation.  Somebody needs to do something and, so I took the initiative to do what I needed to do to save those kids,” Cheek told News 8’s Mario Boone.

Fortunately, all the kids made it off the bus unhurt.  A spokesman for New Haven Public Schools thanked all who assisted in getting the children to safety.  First Student, Inc. declined to make the bus driver available to be interviewed.


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