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Zanesville Times Recorder
'It's my job to protect them'
Driver got students safely off her bus when it caught fire
Shelly Schultz, Reporter
Sept. 20, 2017

NEW CONCORD -  Marianne Hall starts each school year by explaining the rules for riding her bus, the consequences for breaking the rules and, of course, safety drills.

On Sept. 13, days after completing the emergency evacuation drill with more than 100 students who ride her bus daily, Hall was forced to test the drill when a real emergency occurred toward the end of her route.

"I had finished my high school and elementary routes and picked up my shuttle kids from Perry (Elementary) to take them to (Larry Miller Intermediate School) when I noticed smoke coming from my vents," Hall said. "I radioed in and was advised that a replacement bus would meet me at LMIS."

Hall said she was at the traffic light in New Concord when smoke began coming from under the hood of the bus.

"I wasn't sure I would be able to make it to LMIS and knew there would be no place to pull off the road on 83, so I pulled into Riesbeck's," Hall said. "It was a split second decision and I am glad I made it."

As soon as Hall got her bus stopped, she began evacuating the children.

"There were 25 or 30 kids on the bus and they just did perfect," Hall said. "They knew exactly what they were suppose to do and they did it. I was so proud of them."

A New Concord squad had observed the situation and pulled in behind her to assist. While some of the firefighters were manning the fire under the hood, others were helping Hall remove backpacks from the bus.

"Being a bus driver is a huge responsibility," Hall said. "When parents put their kids on the bus they trust that I am going to get them to school and back home safely. It's my job to protect them and I take that very seriously."

Hall has been driving a bus for the district for 16 years, and she is a graduate of East Muskingum schools. Back then, she never dreamed she would one day drive a school bus.

"My kids were in school and I was looking for a job that would allow me to be home when they were," Hall said. "Driving a bus would do that."

Hall begins her day at 6:20 a.m. with the high school route and her morning ends at Perry Elementary three hours later. At 2 p.m., she takes the high school students home and her final elementary student arrives home around 5 p.m.

Driving the bus is not her only obligation, however.

"Every morning, we have to do pre-run checks to make sure the hoses and wires are all connected and the tires are all good," Hall said. "It's not like your car, you don't just jump in it in the morning and take off."

She is also responsible for keeping her bus clean inside and out and scheduling routine maintenance.

Hall said bus drivers are a close-nit family both at the bus barn and outside of work.

"Any one of us would do anything in the world for the other drivers," Hall said. "We love what we do and we take our job very serious."

While she can't imagine ever not driving a school bus, Hall said it isn't always an easy job.

"You have to have a lot of patience," Hall said. "This job is not for everyone. But you build a rapport with these kids. You watch them grow up and when they graduate you are just as proud of them."

Hall said the most challenging part of her job has nothing to do with the students on her bus, but other people on the road.

"People just ignore our reds (flashing lights) when we are stopping," Hall said. "When our lights are flashing that means stop. Some day there is going to be a bad accident and a child is going to get hurt real bad because people don't obey the bus signals."

Hall said she will probably drive a bus until she dies because she really loves what she does.

As for the damage to her bus, the alternator caught on fire. It was repaired and her bus was back on the road within days.

"After I got the children to safety and all of their belongings out of the bus, the only thing I asked of the firefighters was to save my hot pink seat cover," Hall said. "I like my seat cover."

Read this and other articles at the Zanesville Times Recorder


 
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