LAKEVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - Ten-year-old Kennedy Malo is counting her blessings after the school bus she and another student were on in a rural part of Credit River near Lakeville on Tuesday afternoon suddenly gave its driver steering trouble.
“We started smelling like rubber burning and we saw a little bit of smoke and he lost control and we kind of swerved off and lost control into the property,” she said. “Things like that can happen to everyday people. It was just crazy.”
According to the bus company, Schmitty & Sons, once the driver smelled something burning, he walked the two students to a nearby drive way, called dispatch and when he saw flames, tried to get it under control himself with this extinguisher.
“It didn’t go out and he told us to start walking up the road,” Kennedy said.
The Scott County sheriff’s office responded in minutes and the Prior Lake Fire Department arrived after handling a residential blaze. About 15 minutes later, the head of the bus company came and picked up Kennedy and the other passenger to ensure they made it home safely.
In a statement, a Lakeville Area Public Schools spokeswoman wrote, “we commend the driver’s quick thinking and actions to keep our students safe. We have worked with Schmitty & Sons for many years, and appreciate the excellent work they do for our students and families.”
Some on social media claim the matter could’ve been avoided had Lakeville’s district simply cancelled classes. Kennedy’s relieved stepdad disagrees.
“It’s an electrical failure that could happen any day,” Nana Coffi said.
Schmitty & Sons safety officials found evidence of a fluid leak behind the bus in fresh snow, and believe the possible cause of the fire was a power steering failure and doesn’t appear to be weather-related. The exact cause hasn’t been officially determined.
“I’m just glad that I’m safe, and the other student that was with me is safe, and the bus driver is safe cause he was trying to keep us safe but I don’t think he was necessarily worried about his safety,” Kennedy said.
Full statement from Lakeville Area Public Schools
"While driving through a rural part of Credit River, one of Schmitty and Son buses caught fire as a result of a mechanical failure. Two students were on the bus at the time and driver evacuated them safely and moved them to a safe location.
The students were transported home without incident in about 25 minutes, and the parents were advised.
We commend the driver's quick thinking and actions to keep our students safe. We have worked with Schmitty and Sons for many years, and appreciate the excellent work they do for our students and families."