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Litchfield Bus Driver Hailed As Hero After Halloween Fire

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(credit: CBS) Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
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LITCHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) – A Litchfield school bus driver who transports 45 kids to school each day says there were signs of trouble before an explosion engulfed her bus in flames.

Part-time driver and full-time mother Roxanne Godejahn thought she was being tricked at first that Halloween.

“I noticed there was a smell. And sometimes the older kids can get out of hand and I thought there was a smoke bomb.”

With 45 students ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade aboard, Shelby Hopp was one of the ones who caught a whiff.

“It was like rotten eggs…The smoke stunk,” Hopp said.

“I got up, looked at the kids and said, ‘We need to evacuate,'” Godejahn said. “It was just a trickle of smoke, nothing that scared me or alarmed me. I just knew, to be on the safe side, we needed to evacuate.”

Her hunch was right. And where there was smoke, there turned out to be fire. After Godejahn lined the kids up in a ditch and called for another bus, her bus erupted into flames.

“Most of the kids were crying,” Hopp said.

Kindy Sime, Hopp’s mother whose 17-year-old son Garrett also rides the bus, said she thinks what Godejahn did took guts.

“I’d just like to thank her, that she took that responsibility and got everybody off safely,” she said.

Godejahn said she’s just happy she decided not to second guess herself, because sometimes caution signs don’t have words.

She was almost at the end of her route when all of this happened, and said she momentarily thought about just finishing the route. But she said there was just something in her gut that made her stop right away.

She is now driving a new bus.

Deputies commended Godejahn for an excellent job and several parents are talking about coming up with a way to officially thank her.

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