Bobby DeLee, a school bus driver for First Student, evacuated his passengers after smelling smoke.

Bobby DeLee, a school bus driver for First Student, evacuated his passengers after smelling smoke.

LATHAM, N.Y. — School bus driver Bobby DeLee won a new award from the New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) for his critical response to a fire on his bus.

The recognition is NYSBCA’s first Industry-Wide Employee of the Month award. Each month, the association will honor a member company employee — including school bus drivers, matrons, mechanics, and office staff — for exceptional service and commitment to student safety.

DeLee, a school bus driver for First Student, was transporting 13 students home from school in Syracuse, New York, last April when he smelled smoke coming from the bus. According to NYSBCA, DeLee immediately pulled over in front of a nearby school and, as smoke started to fill up inside the bus, he safely evacuated all the children and took them inside the building.

DeLee reportedly then went back out to make sure there was no one else on board the school bus before it became engulfed in flames.

On Dec. 6, DeLee was honored for his actions by the American Red Cross of Central New York during its 19th annual Real Heroes Breakfast.

NYSBCA also recognized DeLee with its new award.

“Bobby DeLee truly represents the best that our industry has to offer, and due to his training, quick thinking, and rapid response to a dangerous situation, he was able to prevent any injuries and save the lives of all of the children riding on his bus that day,” NYSBCA President Bree Allen said. “Bobby sets the standard for others to follow, and we are thrilled to honor him by recognizing him with our inaugural Industry-Wide Employee of the Month award.”

DeLee has been a driver with First Student, serving Syracuse City School District, for 11 years. He said that he decided to become a driver because he wanted to help kids, and that he will continue to strive to be the safest bus driver possible in the years to come.

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