Bus Driver, Good Samaritans Honored for Saving Students

The Northwest Independent School District honored four heroes Monday night, credited with helping to save the lives of 10 high school students when the school bus they were riding in caught fire last week.

"We would like to recognize and publicly thank each of you for keeping our students out of harm's way. All of you are truly heroes," read the proclamation, in part, dedicated to school bus driver Heather Bowen, and three Good Samaritans - Gayla Davidson, Gary Fowler and Lani Jewett.

Ten students from Northwest High School were on a bus headed along Interstate 35W on Wednesday when a fire started somewhere near the back tires, witnesses said.

"[There] was no time, no time at all," Bowen said Monday about how quickly she had to pull off the highway and usher the kids off the bus before the flames completely consumed the vehicle.

Cell phone video captured by eyewitnesses, including some of the students, showed the bus engulfed in flames. At one point, an explosion could be seen on the driver's side of the vehicle.

"Just goes to show you things can happen in a moment," said eyewitness Fowler, who, along with co-worker Jewett, who was not in attendance at Monday's Northwest ISD board meeting, pulled off and helped the students find safety away from the bus.

For her part, Bowen said her role in the ordeal was not a coincidence.

"I believe in God. And I believe He put me in the situation for whatever reason He has planned for me. And I was chosen to be there, to be that bus driver," Bowen said.

As for the role of hero, each of those honored Monday deflected praise.

"I'm hoping that anyone, anybody here, would have done the same thing had they been there," Davidson said.

"I think any parent, when they see the school bus is on fire, the first instinct is gonna be to stop and see what you can do to help," said Fowler.

"You do what you need to do in the situation in which you're put in. And you do the best to your ability and take care of those kids just like they're your own," Bowen said.

Investigators are still working on a final report but said that an “undetermined mechanical malfunction” caused the blaze.

Contact Us