Charleroi Area honors 'heroic' bus driver
By Jeremy Sellew
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
As Eva Harris cleared the top step at Charleroi Area High School, she was quickly met by nearly 20 children with outstretched arms.
“It's so overwhelming ... and unnecessary,” Harris said of her hero's welcome to a school board informational meeting Tuesday. “A hero, that's what they're calling me, but I was just doing my job.”
The board honored Harris, a driver who evacuated students from Bus 3 on Oct. 16 after she smelled smoke.
After she led the children behind a church and out of the view of the bus, the vehicle burst into flames.
Superintendent Dr. Brad Ferko presented Harris with a certificate of appreciation.
“We wanted a fitting award, a big plaque with red and black, a Cougar emblem,” he said. “ ... We wanted it done right. It will be done later this week.”
Reading from the certificate, Ferko said, “In appreciation of your heroic efforts.”
The presentation was followed by a rousing round of applause from school board members, students and parents.
“Your quick action in getting those kids off the bus averted a tragedy,” he added. “But to take them around the church so they did not see the fire that engulfed their bus ... that was such great thinking when it comes to the best interest of the students.
“I have to recognize the great work of the two fire departments that were on scene, Fallowfield Township and Bentleyville, for all of their support and quick response. They did a fabulous job.”
Ferko said that because Harris kept the students from seeing the fire, all but one rode a bus to school the next day.
“Imagine where we'd be if the kids would have seen that and refused to get back on the bus,” Ferko said.
Jennifer Taylor, a parent of one of the students in attendance, presented Harris with a large floral arrangement. Included in the flowers was a toy school bus with “Charleroi School District” affixed to the side.
“Now you'll always have your bus,” Taylor said as she hugged Harris.
Harris said she knew she had to get the children off the bus immediately when she sensed there was a problem and saw smoke flowing from the hood that afternoon along Huber Road in West Pike Run Township.
“I was doing my job and doing what I love,” Harris said. “I'm so grateful that we're all alive and that we made it out safe.”
Harris said her riders do not complain about school bus fire drills.
“No way, not these kids,” Harris said. “They can't wait to do it and now they see why. They were so good about it. No one really began to panic at all until we got behind the church.
“Some were trying to peek and see what was going on. But I was pleased to see them all back the next day.
“The kids had some questions, but not too many. It makes me feel like they trust me; their parents, too.”
Harris said the response to her actions have been both “overwhelming and humbling.”
“Flowers, cards every day ... ,” she said. “I got an angel pin that I'm wearing tonight in an envelope, and that's all that was in it. I'm just really touched, especially the last few days and seeing it all on TV.”
Harris said she and her husband plan to see the burned bus Friday.
“I'm just glad that we got everyone off the bus and all of the kids were safe,” Harris said. “I won't bid on another bus run, because I'm so close to those kids and their parents – even moreso now. And that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It'll always be in my heart.”
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2667.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rostraver landfill fined $160,000 for bad odors
- Photo gallery: Ringgold High School students stage ‘Tarzan: The Stage Musical’
- Belle Vernon students show grasp of history
- Charges mounting in Monessen drug case
- St. Molokai parish ruling imminent
- Snowfall predictions fizzle
- Cal U offers military personnel, families discounted online rates
- N. Charleroi street workers get deal
- Four Belle Vernon Area students disciplined
- Monessen drug probe yields arrest