CVI Client Jasmine Duffey, 24, was enroute to Charlotte, North Carolina on August 8 on a Megabus when her orientation and mobility (O and M) training came in handy. On I-75, right before the South Carolina line, her planned leisure trip changed to traumatic memory in an instant. Below is Jasmine's story in her own words.
Jasmine Duffey, CVI Client
I was on my way to Charlotte to perform in a poetry contest. I had been planning this trip for a while. My friend and I chose to travel using the Megabus. The Megabus is an express bus service that travels from city to city. Megabuses are double decker buses with seating available at the top and bottom of the bus. Usually the bottom is reserved for people with disabilities, but because that seating was not noted on the tickets for myself and my sighted friend, the bus driver gave me a hard time about needing to sit at the bottom level of the bus. After some back and forth with the driver, I ended up being able to sit in the front seat by the door at the bottom level of the bus, while my friend was directed to sit in the back of the bus.
After an hour passed, I noticed that the empty seat next to me was empty, so I text my friend sitting in the back to come sit next to me. Ten minutes after my friend arrived to the seat, the bus driver announced that she was pulling the bus over because the tire blew. She advised everyone to stay calm and ordered everyone to get off the bus. I had a funny feeling something was wrong. If there was a flat tire, there really wasn’t a need to evacuate the bus. But the driver kept telling everyone to get off.
I was still sitting in the front seat when the bus driver opened the door, and I felt and smelled smoke blow in my face. Then I really knew something was wrong. Next the bus driver started yelling, “I need everyone to get off the bus NOW!” When that smoke blew in my face, I knew it wasn’t smoke, it was fire. The bus was on fire and the bus driver told everyone to get off. My friend started to panic as I kept trying to keep her calm and told her to gather our belongings. I grabbed our things and as we stepped off the bus I could feel the heat coming from under the bus on the back of my legs. Then we all knew it was on fire.
Fire gutted a Megabus headed to Charlotte from Atlanta. Photo by FOX Carolina.
I couldn’t see smoke but I could smell something burning. People were yelling all round me that the bus was on fire. People were saying that the MegaBus looked like a melted soda can. I kept hearing a popping noise as the bus seemed to be blowing up. Gas started leaking and the bus was completely on fire. It took police about 20 minutes to get to the scene. By that time, everyone’s luggage and belongings stored under the bus were completely on fire.
I just took O and M three months ago and I credit my O and M sensory training for helping me get through that. I was able to recognize that what I smelled when that door opened was the smell of fire and not just smoke. I was able to get downstairs safely and even help my friend and strangers in the process. I remember my O and M instructor, Ernest, said, “If you are in a situation where you’re about to panic, stop and figure out what you’re doing.” To other clients, or potential clients, don’t take CVI classes for granted. Pay attention and whether you believe it or not, you will eventually need the skills you’re learning.