Tulare County Board of Supervisors present Central Valley Christian bus driver Karen Pace proclamation for her courageous actions protecting the lives of students in September bus fire
VISALIA – Sept. 9 was anything but normal for Central Valley Christian bus driver Karen Pace, who safely evacuated more than 30 children on board her bus after it caught fire at Demaree Street and Noble Avenue in Visalia. At the Oct. 12 Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Amy Shuklian and the board honored her with a proclamation for her heroism.
“The actions of Ms. Pace were very courageous in the face of a potentially life-threatening situation. She is a great example of a good samaritan and dedicated public servant,” Shuklian said. “As a bus driver, parents put their children’s lives in your hands, they expect a safe pickup and dropoff, and that’s absolutely what you did that day.”
Pace said she was humbled by the board recognizing her.
“I know anyone would have done the same thing, especially all of my coworkers and bus drivers. We do train, we train the kids, they were very prepared for this event,” Pace said. “No injuries, my public service announcement is: if you see a stop sign on a bus, please stop, because people in our county are blowing those stop signs.”
In a former life Pace served as a Tulare County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher. She used her training to remain calm and decisive when her school bus caught fire Sept. 9, creating a potentially life-threatening situation for her and the over 30 children on board.
Pace saw smoke rising from the back of the bus and immediately pulled over to assess the situation, confirming that a fire was present. Pace’s dedication to safety through frequent practice with fire drills kicked into gear, allowing her to quickly evacuate the children from the bus to safety. Without hesitation, Pace entered the bus one final time, checking every seat as the bus filled with smoke to make sure all the students were safe.
After completing the evacuation, Pace continued to calm and protect the students until emergency services arrived.
“Once everything was contained as far as the kids, they were living their best lives, watching the firemen do their jobs,” Pace said.