When a young boy got on his school bus, he suddenly noticed a strange smell. Once he discovered that the odor was coming from the bus driver, he immediately called 911, saving dozens of lives.
Parents teach their children to look both ways before crossing the street to get on the school bus. But, what happens when the danger is actually on the bus? For 10-year-old Troy Luna, this is when trusting his instinct came in handy.
After boarding his bus to go home from Bonita Elementary School in Crows Landing, Troy couldn’t help but notice several abnormal changes to his typical bus ride. The first difference he recognized was a mysterious, pungent odor filling the bus. Upon following his nose, he realized that the scent was emanating from the driver.
When he pointed out the aroma to his classmates, they brushed it off, but as Troy sat down in his seat, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right, he told KOVR.
“I smelled something weird,” Troy recalled. “A smoky kind of smell and like a weird smell together.”
The smell was coming from Karolyn Denise Ray, a substitute bus driver. District Superintendent Phil Phillpot says she is typically assigned to another district but had to fill in that day for the usual driver.
Troy Luna tried to ignore the smell, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. When the smelly bus driver slammed on the breaks and sent children hurdling into the seats in front of them, Troy was convinced his classmates were in grave danger.
“She stepped on the breaks really hard and a few kids went flying and hit their heads on the seats,” Troy explained.
Troy says that the driver missed a turn and entered a busy freeway. It was then that he told the other kids he was going to call the police and report the reckless behavior. Although his peers tried to persuade him not to make the call, the little boy knew he had to protect his classmates.
“I was like okay I’m just going to make the 911 call and I made the call,” Troy said. “All my friends were trying to talk me out of it I said I don’t care, I don’t feel right, so I just did it.”
When Karolyn Denise Ray pulled over to drop off a student, police officers were there to pull her over. The driver failed a field sobriety test and was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and endangering the welfare of a child. Disturbingly, Ray had been high on narcotics when she picked up the children from school that afternoon.
Ray has since been removed from her job with First Student. The superintendent met with the company and confirmed that the district is now considering “other options.” He praised Troy and commended the brave 10-year-old for taking action.
Troy Luna has been hailed a hero for calling 911 even though he faced peer pressure to keep quiet. Because of his integrity, the county has credited him with saving 30 students on the bus.
We teach our children to never talk to strangers because they shouldn’t just trust someone simply because they’re an adult. Then, we place them in situations in which they are forced to place their trust in strangers. Instead, we should teach them discernment. Luckily, Troy had enough to save himself and 30 other students.