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School bus catches fire, rolls backward through a neighborhood and into family’s home

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Posted at 8:12 PM, Apr 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-14 20:12:09-04

FERGUSON, Missouri (KMOV) — A family is searching for a new place to live and trying to get back on their feet after a school bus rammed into the front of their rental house.

Laura Williams had been out playing with her daughter in the front yard when she and several other neighbors noticed the bus driving through the neighborhood with sparks and smoke coming from the bottom of the vehicle.

“People were shouting, ‘Your bus is on fire,’ but the driver couldn’t hear,” Williams said.

Eventually, the driver stopped at the top of the hill at the end of Williams’ block and got out as smoke filled the inside of the bus.

But then the vehicle started rolling backward down the hill, on a direct course for Willams and her daughter.

“All I could do was get my daughter inside,” she said.

Williams lives in the house with her two children and fiance, Ayanna Whittier, as well as Whittier’s son.

The bus smashed into Whittier’s car before hitting the walls of the house.

“The house shook. Everything was coming down,” Williams said.

Whittier had been at work when she saw a series of missed calls from her partner.

“Thank God my car was there to slow down the impact,” she said. “If my car hadn’t been there, they wouldn’t have had time to get out.”

The bus was owned and operated by Lift for Life Academy, a local charter school. Marshall Cohen, the executive director of the school, said it was investigating the incident and had turned the matter over to its insurance company.

Cohen said the driver had at least a year of experience and had just finished dropping her last kids off. She made it off the bus with no injuries.

“This is a tragic incident, and we’re trying to look at what caused it. Fortunately, no one was injured,” Cohen told First Alert 4 over the phone.

Whittier and Williams have been receiving help from the Red Cross as well as some donations from their friends and neighbors. They also posted an online fundraiser to help them replace their car and other possessions lost in the incident.