Hero bus driver honored for safely removing children before train hit school bus in Orland Park

The hero bus driver who safely removed all children before a train hit the bus in Orland Park on Feb. 4 was honored Wednesday. 

Sue Mitchell made sure to get the kids off the bus when it stalled at a railroad crossing at 167th and 109th Avenue.

Fire Chief Michael Scholfield said there were no injuries thanks to Mitchell, who quickly escorted the five children off the bus to safety minutes before the Metra train hit the bus.

This afternoon, St. Michael School students and staff honored hero bus driver Sue Mitchell for safely removing four of the school’s students before a train hit their bus on the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. St. Michael School students greeted Su

The children on the bus were from St. Michael's in Orland Park.

"The investigation we did shows the driver stopped at the tracks as required to do so, but when she started the bus to cross, the bus stalled with the front end of the bus over the tracks," Schofield said. "The gate came down on top of the bus and the driver then quickly escorted the five children off of the bus to safety minutes before the METRA train hit the front of the bus."


"When everyone does what they are trained to do, no one gets hurt. We are so grateful for that," Schofield added.

Among the students on the bus was 12-year-old Ava Gentile and her two brothers. Ava says Mitchell quickly got them to safety.

"We all just ran off the bus. I got Jeremy and Joshua, the neighbor and I just told them to get off the bus and go far away," Ava said.

"Just walking up and seeing all three of them was a relief. They were all emotional, very upset. Saw Ms. Sue. Went up to her, gave her a hug. Just thanked her for her response, her actions," said the children's father, Marc Gentile.

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. photo credit: Karen Callaway, Archdiocese of Chicago