RALEIGH, N.C. — Five North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) workers received the department’s Extra Mile Award earlier this month for putting out an engine fire on a Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school bus carrying 19 high school students.
“I congratulate these employees on receiving this award,” Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said. “Their actions demonstrate the commitment and dedication the department has to public safety.”
Greg Dellacona, Nikoma Emanuel, Randy Munn, Jack Roland and Mike Westmoreland were heading down a local road on June 2 when Dellacona, the crew’s supervisor, noticed that smoke was pouring out from under the hood of the bus that was approaching in the opposite lane.
After the bus pulled over to the side of the road, the men headed over to where it was parked and grabbed fire extinguishers from their trucks. They doused the flaming engine while the bus driver evacuated the students.
“It looked as though a small electrical fire had burned a hole through the fuel line, spilling gasoline into the engine compartment,” said Munn, who also works as a volunteer firefighter. “Everything was completely engulfed in flames, and the inside of the bus was filling up with smoke.”
When the fire department arrived, the students and bus driver were safely off the bus and the NCDOT crew had put out the fire. They stayed at the scene to help direct traffic until the roadway was cleared.
The next day, a representative from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools visited the crew members and personally thanked them for their help.
“Most people do what is expected of them; few do what is unexpected,” said Rhonda Fleming, transportation director for the district. “These men went beyond the call of duty and reached out to those in need. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for being there for our students.”
Although they appreciate the thanks and the award, neither Dellacona nor the other crew members see their actions as anything out of the ordinary.
“We were glad to help out,” he said. “It’s what we’re here to do.”