School bus driver Srinivas Goud is now a hero, having saved the lives of 40 students before the vehicle went up in flames at Batasingaram on Thursday

Mild-mannered, down-to-earth and god-fearing is how you would describe T. Srinivas Goud. But he is not just another one of those. A driver of a school bus, Srinivas Goud is now a hero, having saved the lives of 40 students before the vehicle went up in flames at Batasingaram near Hayathnagar on Thursday.

True to his nature, he is modest about his feat. Not his effort, but the combined luck of the children on the bus helped them escape unhurt, he says recalling the shocking incident.

On Thursday morning, he started from his Bhoodan Pochampally village bordering Hayathnagar.

About three kilometres from Batasingaram, Srinivas Goud smelt some wires burning in the vehicle. He stopped the bus for a while but found nothing wrong in the two-year-old Swaraj Mazda 42-seater. A little later, some students shouted “smoke, smoke” from the moving bus.

The smoke emanating above the last row of seats — which he saw through the rear view mirror — scared the wits out of him. Without wasting a second, he slammed the brakes, ran to the door and pulled it open from outside.

“I didn’t want to frighten them. I first lifted the kids of lower classes, who were sitting on front seats,” he narrated. As sparks began flying, the driver realised that the flames could erupt any moment. There was no time to pull out all the children one-by-one. Cautioning the students not to jump out from the windows or break the windscreens, he asked them to rush out one-by-one through the aisle. That helped and all of them alighted without suffering even so much as a scratch.

Within seconds of the students getting off the bus, there was an explosion and flames engulfed the bus. Srinivas Goud took the shocked students away from the spot, apprehending further explosions from the diesel tank or the lights. Fortunately, nothing of that sort happened.

This was the first accident in his 10-year stint as a school bus driver, he says. The fire in the bus, however, came as a rude jolt to him. “The students felt bad over their books and lunch boxes being reduced to ashes. I couldn’t save their books and belongings but their lives were more important at that point of time,” he said.

Teachers of the school decided to felicitate him for saving the students but he gently rejected it. The teachers, however, decided to meet him at his village on Sunday to acknowledge his alacrity that prevented a great tragedy.

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