A local school bus driver called a hero by many was recognized by the Wisconsin School Bus Association Wednesday, June 28. Steve Linehan was named Wisconsin School Bus Driver of the Year and presented with a plaque at a luncheon in Green Bay, for his actions getting 40 frightened children off of a burning bus last fall with only very minor injuries.

Linehan said he is honored, but the kids are the real heroes.

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"They're really the reason that I won this... They were the heroes in this whole ordeal, not me," Linehan said. “This was really scary for them, and they all behaved like young men and young women and they all got off safely.”

Last September Linehan was driving a bus full of 40 children to Greenwood Elementary School. Linehan stopped the bus on Falcon Drive between Morgan Road and Ninth Street when he smelled smoke, and evacuated the students as flames spread. 

Bus Garage Supervisor Ron Weishaar, who nominated Linehan for the award said he is very proud of Linehan.

“It was such a heroic act... he got 40 kids off the bus and himself with very minor injuries,” Weishaar said. “And just something that was so out of the ordinary, but yet it was right by the book. He did it right how he was trained to do, and it worked the way it’s supposed to work.”

Linehan said it was the school district’s training -- for bus drivers and students alike -- that helped him get the kids safely off the burning bus. Emergency drills on the busses are conducted twice a year. 

Said School District Superintendent Jamie Benson: “We’re certainly proud of Steve and are very thankful that his appropriate actions on that scary day helped to keep all of our children safe."

For the full story, please see the July 3 print edition of the River Falls Journal.