Four months after she had to evacuate a busload of children in downtown Paso Robles, a bus driver for the Paso Robles school district was named Driver of the Year this week.
Elaine Carol Duenas was one of two drivers given the award by the CHP. Duenas, a driver since 2003, was chosen to represent Southern California.
To be honored for the award, drivers have to be nominated for an act demonstrating exceptional skill, judgment or bravery that prevented loss of life.
Duenas was nominated by CHP officer Tami Reece after an incident last December.
Duenas was driving a busload of children home from Winifred Pifer School on Dec. 7 when she heard an explosion, caused by a mechanical issue, in back of the bus. As smoke began to enter the vehicle, Duenas pulled to the side of the road, turned off the vehicle and evacuated the 84 passengers. No one was injured, and all the students made it home safely.