‘I just did what I had to do’: Wayne Central bus driver speaks out after fiery crash
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ONTARIO, N.Y. – Deb Hibbard is still a little stunned.
She was behind the wheel of a Wayne Central school bus returning from a field trip Wednesday when a car crashed into the bus, causing Hibbard and the 25 students and chaperones on board to go off of Lake Road.
The car, Hibbard told News10NBC exclusively, came out of nowhere.
Moments later, her bus would be engulfed in flames.
All she could think was, “We have to get off.”
“The back end of the bus was a little high. I slid out. I didn’t jump out, but there was a couple boys there. I honestly don’t remember who they were that helped everybody get down, and the teachers were absolutely outstanding. They were, we were working as a team and said , ‘We just got to get out of here, get ’em off the bus, and get them far far away,'” Hibbard recalled.
The 22 juniors and seniors and adult chaperones made it off safely.
When News10NBC met with Hibbard at her Ontario home Friday, her wrist was wrapped in a bandage. She said she has some bruises and got a little banged up in the crash.
But don’t call her a hero, she says.
She is thankful to the neighbor who helped her keep it together in spite of her fears.
Eriketa Cost, News10NBC: “You said it was hard to stay calm. How did you find it in you to collect yourself?
Deb Hibbard, bus driver: “I think it was because of the kids. I care about those kids a lot.”
She praised the bravery of the kids on her bus and thanked the community for its support, calling it overwhelming.
“That’s the one thing I want to get across is that this is an amazing place to live. It’s an amazing place to work. We’ll get through it together,” Hibbard said.
She also offered condolences to the family of the man who died in the crash. William Fierstein, 73, of Webster, was pronounced dead at the scene. His dog was also killed. Police aren’t sure if Fierstein suffered a medical emergency or died because of the crash.
Hibbard said she’s “not a quitter” and doesn’t want to step away from the job, but she’s taking some time off the road for now.