Bus Driver, Attendant Praised for Saving Passengers

A bus driver and an attendant were being praised on Friday for saving passengers on a special-needs bus that broke down Friday morning and went up in smoke.

The incident happened at 9 a.m. Friday when the bus broke down at Long Beach Avenue and 24th Street in Long Beach, said Sophia Rastegar, the bus driver.

Within seconds Jesse Soto, the bus attendant, kicked the door down with full force.

"It was like a 'Mission Impossible' movie," Soto said. "I was just doing my job," he said.

But there was a problem, not everyone followed. The seven passengers on board the bus were physically and developmentally disabled adults.

"That's when you go from 0 to 100 in like fight or flight kicks in and you get that person off the bus," Soto said.

Soto and Rastegar carried some of the passengers off the smoke-filled bus.

Their manager praised them.

"I believe anyone is trained to do that, save a life- that's being human," said Daryl J. Action, the director of transportation for the bus company, SMS Transportation Inc.

Firefighters were summoned and doused the flames.

Soto downplays his role.

"I don't want to be too boastful about it," he said. "I feel like anyone should do that."

Contact Us