DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – She’s only been employed with the Darlington County School District for 45 days, but for Superintendent Dr. Tim Newman, bus driver Bernadine Reed “has become my hero.”
It was Reed who kept a cool head and got dozens of students off a Darlington County school bus on Tuesday after it was struck from behind by another vehicle while stopped at the railroad tracks on East McIver Road near Riverview Road.
The collision caused both vehicles to catch fire.
“The only thought I had was getting them all of the bus to safety,” Reed said speaking about the experience Wednesday.
She said it was a little girl in the back of the bus who told her “It’s smoking.”
She then led all the children to safety. Initial reports from the district were that there were 34 students on board. Officials amended that figure on Wednesday and said it was actually 40.
For Reed, maternal instincts kicked in when she saw there was danger.
“I’m just a mother that got 40 kids off a bus to safety,” she said.
Newman said Reed is one of 110 bus drivers who drive 60 percent of the district’s 10,000 students to and from school every day.
Every school in the district prepares for these types of situations by practicing bus emergency evacuation drills twice a year Newman said.
He noted the job is difficult, and praised not only Reed but all the bus drivers who make the students’ safety a top priority.
Every school in the district prepares for these types situations by practicing bus emergency evacuation drills twice a year Newman said.
“Ms. Reed did everything to make that situation turn out as best as possible,” Newman said.
South Carolina Highway Patrol Cpl. Sonny Collins said 29-year-old Nelson Crowley, of Patrick, S.C., has been charged with driving too fast for conditions in connection with the crash.