FARMINGDALE - Cindy March is lucky to be alive after the Able-Ride van she was in caught fire yesterday.
March, who uses a wheelchair, escaped without injury thanks to a driver she barely knows. She was bound to her 300-pound motorized wheelchair when the van caught fire on Manetto Hill Road in Plainview. The manual gate wouldn’t open and the front staircase was too narrow for her to escape.
Van driver Jean Jeune, of Deer Park, asked March if she could get out.
“He was like, ‘Can you do this?’ I said, ‘No, unfortunately I can't get down those stairs.’ He then picked me up, bear-hugged me, took me down to the stairs and ran with me across the school lawn,” says March. “I didn't think this stranger would wait for me, and risk his life to get me out of the bus.”
March’s aide made it out of the fire safely too.
March says she would like to give Jeune a big hug and kiss the next time they meet. In the meantime, NICE Bus says it is working to replace her motorized chair.