School Bus driver helps pull teen from burning truck first day on the job

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FORT OSAGE, Mo. -- A Fort Osage school bus driver is being hailed as a hero. He was driving children to their first day of school Wednesday, when he spotted a wreck, and a truck on fire.

Paraprofessional Cory Slyter, 19, had just dropped his fiancée and daughter off at daycare and was on his way to work when he skidded off Bundschu Road near Little Blue Parkway in Independence and hit a tree. A moment later Jordan Kirkland spotted the crash. He had a bus full of students excited for their first day of school. But he told the bus monitor he had to try to do something.

“As I’m running down the flames are just popping you could hear fuel lines starting to go off and by the time I’m down there I can feel the heat off of the truck and it’s just growing rapidly,” Kirkland said.

An older driver had already stopped to help, and had pulled Slyter from the truck, but Slyter had collapsed on top of him.

“Everything happened so fast it was kind of surreal,” Kirkland said.

Kirkland threw the teen over his shoulder, and used his other hand to help pull the good Samaritan to safety, as the truck burst into flames. The truck was unrecognizable after the fire.

“Seconds, seconds, if my reaction time had been any different or if that other man hadn’t been there, the outcome would have been completely different,” Kirkland said.

Once police and paramedics arrived, Kirkland continued on to school. One student asking him why he stopped to help?

“Maybe one day he’ll grow up and understand that and see how valuable life is,” Kirkland said.

Slyter suffered a concussion, some damaged ligaments and got quite a few stitches but is home recovering. He doesn't remember the wreck. Slyter doesn't know the identity of the older man who helped him. Kirkland came to his home Thursday night.

“I can’t ever thank them enough, without them I wouldn’t be here today, I’d probably be dead, November 5th I’m getting married instead of having a wedding we would have been having a funeral.”

Slyter gave Kirkland an invitation to he and his fiancee’s wedding, saying if anyone deserves to be there it’s the bus driver.

Fort Osage Director of Public Relations Stephanie Smith said, "we are proud of our bus drivers actions and quick thinking when seeing a situation where someone was in need of help. Beyond taking care of students, our bus drivers are making a difference in the Fort Osage community. The driver made sure the students were cared for by a bus monitor and rushed to the aid of another. We take pride in our staff and our driver's actions are just one example of how Fort Osage staff are putting the needs of others first. We are grateful to have such a wonderful driver working with our students and staff."