ROSELLE PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A major scare on a school bus as it caught on fire on the Garden State Parkway Thursday afternoon.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported the bus was driving home seven children with special needs from Mount Carmel Guild Academy in West Orange, New Jersey, when it burst into flames.
Ten-year-old Alex Perez was a big reason why everyone lived through the scare. He said he yelled out and got the bus driver’s attention after seeing smoke.
“I smelled it and I looked toward the front and saw smoke coming from the entrance,” Alex said.
The bus driver pulled over on the Parkway in Union and the next thing he knew first responders were pulling everyone off the bus.
“I wasn’t worried at first, but when I started to see it catch on fire, I’m so glad I wasn’t on it,” Alex said.
Michelle Perez, Alex’s mom, said her son’s autism may have been a factor in his heroism.
“He’s high sensory, so he can pick up smells, sounds really quick,” Perez said.
Alex is too humble to take credit for what he did.
“I was like the second hero,” he said. “I was like the sidekick, I guess.”
Alex recalls sitting in a police car on the side of the highway for over an hour, watching the fire spread to nearby trees.
He made a YouTube video once he got home. His mom said she’s anxious to send her son back on the school bus.
“I’m gonna want to know when he gets to school, I’m gonna want to call now when he gets to school to know he’s OK,” Perez said.
The family said they don’t know if a bus will pick Alex up in the morning, but they plan on waking up and waiting for it like a normal day.
One child was treated for breathing issues, but everyone made it off the bus without serious injury.