Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

August 19, 2013

Sorority president helps evacuate burning bus

PITTSBURG, Kan. — A college sorority president is being credited with helping escort her sorority sisters to safety after their bus caught fire en route to a conference Saturday.

Mary Kate Gartner, president of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority chapter at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, helped lead the evacuation before part of the bus was engulfed in flames, said university President Steve Scott.

No one was injured.

"She did provide leadership as that bus came to a stop and basically said, 'We need to evacuate the bus,'" Scott said. "The young women around her gave her a lot of credit for being very composed and yet being firm as to this is what they needed to do."

According to a statement released by the Crawford County (Kan.) Sheriff’s Department, the fire was reported at 6:45 a.m. Saturday when the bus was three miles north of Arma on U.S. Highway 69. Officers and firefighters arrived to find the bus engulfed in flames, but everyone had been evacuated.

The bus was carrying members of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority to the annual Fraternal Leadership Summit in Overland Park, Kan.

The driver and owner of the passenger bus, Steve Roberts, told officers the bus overheated, according to the statement from the sheriff’s department. He said he had pulled to the side of the road to check the outside of the bus when flames began coming from the area behind the drivers’ side rear tire.

Roberts told officers he attempted to put out the fire with an extinguisher.

Scott said the students joined the summit later Saturday and would return to the campus Monday.

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