PIQUA (Ohio) – An OSP Sergeant and 3 troopers were honored Monday for saving two people from a burning school van.
Harold Raybern was a school aide on the van. He says, “I thought to myself ‘that wasn’t too bad’. And two seconds later it was like a bomb went off in the van.”
A school transport van burst into flames on I-75 this past December after crashing into a semi near Northwoods Boulevard.
Cayley Seitz was the driver. She says, “They’re so brave. So selfless even. They never left me. One was instructed to get off because the flames start getting worse and he didn’t leave me.”
The OSP troopers battled the flames with fire extinguishers, but driver Cayley Seitz was trapped in the debris. Troopers rushed inside to help her, taking turns because the smoke was too thick.
Sgt. David Robison says they were “Trying everything we can think of. Prying the doors. Trying to pry the dash. There was nothing we could do other than be patient and put the fires out as they would start.”
But they could not free Cayley from the crumpled van, and new fires kept igniting.
Sgt. Robison says, “Once we got it under control, Trooper Hutchison stayed on the bus with the girl who was trapped on the bus. We could not get her out. We tried everything we could do to get her out of that bus, but her legs were pinned.”
Finally, 27 minutes later, the fire department arrived. For their heroic actions, each of the 4 troopers were presented with the prestigious Superintendent’s Citation of Merit award.
Harold Raybern says, “Every day I think about it. And what they went through to get Cayley out and eventually got me out. They just kept coming back, they never left us, and they knew we were going to be ok.”