COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A Prince George's County school bus driver was honored Tuesday for her quick thinking and bravery after her bus caught fire with 20 elementary students on board.
Renita Smith got the kids, some as young as four years old, off safely and then went back into the burning vehicle once more just to make sure it was empty.
Two weeks later, the College Park City Council invited Smith to their meeting to give her a gold plaque and publicly recognize what she did. As a surprise, the city invited some of the students who were on the bus.
"I wanted to come because I wanted to see her with the medal," said student Mikhalis Ferrier.
A highlight of the night came after several people had thanked Smith, and then Ferrier reached for the microphone.
"Thank you for saving my life," he told Smith, wrapping his arms around her waist. "To hear that was just amazing," Smith told FOX 5. "Because these are babies, these are our future, so that right there just melted my heart."
The story of what she did has melted hearts across the country and has made national headlines. It is a welcome change for a school district that has had more than its share of scandal recently.
"Finally something good has happened that can be talked about when it comes to Prince George's County," Smith said.
Smith said with all of the thank yous and accolades, what matters most are her kids.
"My babies are safe," she said.
Firefighters said the bus fire was caused by a broken brake line that leaked brake fluid on the hot brakes and ignited.