On April 30, Bettye Windom and Beth Insley were on their way home from buying a car at about 6 p.m. when they witnessed something peculiar: they were at a stop sign in Georgetown, Mississippi, on Highway 27 and a bus was on Highway 28 with smoke coming from underneath it. Shocked, the two sisters waited to see if the bus would pull over. When it didn’t, 24-year-old Windom and 29-year-old Insley decided to go after it – instead of going on home – honking and waving to try to get the bus to stop. When pulling up next to it didn’t work, Windom, who was driving, took a more drastic approach.
“I just pulled in front of them and slammed on the brakes to get them to stop,” she says. “That’s when I saw sparks underneath the bus so I knew something was going to happen.”
Windom got out of the car and started yelling frantically for the passengers to get off the bus. Inside, librarian Chelshe Archie, who was chaperoning the 21 Port Gibson High School seniors on their way back from state exams, sprang herself into action.
“My first reaction, honestly, as a teacher was to make sure all the kids were off the bus,” the 34-year-old librarian explained. “I was extremely worried about my kids.”
Just moments after Archie was successful in getting her kids out of the large vehicle, with some of them begging to go back to get their purses and backpacks, the school bus explodes and bursts into flames.
“All of a sudden it just went boom!” Archie recalled.
Archie, the kids and their families are grateful to the sisters for saving them from what could have been a terrible tragedy.
“They are real heroes,” says Margaret Goods, whose 18-year-old granddaughter Keonna Goods was on board, “because in my mind just the thought of thinking your child could have burned on the bus is more than you could really bear.”
“Our parents raised us the right way,” says Insley. “We saw someone who needed help and we helped them. We’re happy everyone’s okay.”
Reportedly, school officials believe a mechanical problem caused the bus to burst into flames.
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