COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Over the weekend, a Columbus city bus burst into flames in the middle of a normal route. The evacuation of the passengers is being recognized as heroic.
It’s a moment one passenger says he’ll never forget. Kirby Fahey was one of the Metra bus passengers who was rescued by the bus driver.
“If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I would not believe it,” said Fahey.
Fahey is counting his blessings after what he described as a supernatural experience. He said it began as a regular bus ride to his dialysis treatment Saturday morning. But, from the time he boarded his bus, he said he knew something was wrong.
“We start smelling smoke, it stopped, and then all of a sudden the there’s flames coming out the bottom. The hood is on fire. We’re like wow!," said Fahey.
It was in the area of 10th Street and Talbotton Road where the Columbus Metra bus burst into flames.
The bus and route 224, is typically a shuttle for people with disabilities.
Fahey said as the flames grew he and the few passengers were frozen in their seats.
What happened next was be nothing short of a miracle.
“Lakeia picked me up. She is a small framed woman. I mean small. Couldn’t be more than 120 pounds. I’m 235 pounds. Grabs me, picks me up, and lifted me and put me on the floor. I have never seen anything like that before," Fahey said.
One by one, the driver, identified as Lakeia Whatley Averett, made sure all the passengers were safe, guiding one blind passenger, and picking up another who was wheelchair bound.
She even returned to the flame-filled bus to retrieve their belongings, including medicine, canes and bags.
“I don’t know about anyone else. Somebody must’ve prayed for us. Somebody prayed for us,” Fahey said.
Fahey said he realizes this outcome could have been a lot different.
As he keeps replaying the scene in his head, Fahey said the driver’s bravery and courage will never be forgotten.
“Regardless of the fact that she was trained for the job, what she did was nothing short of heroic. I served in the United States military. She should be recognized for what she did. Kudos girl… for real,” said Kirby.
The driver was reportedly admitted into the hospital for smoke inhalation but is said to be on her way to recovery.
No one else on the bus was injured.