Long Island bus driver who saved disabled passenger after fire honored

PLAINVIEW, Long Island (WABC) -- A Long Island bus driver hailed as a hero after saving the life of a disabled passenger when his bus erupted in flames was honored Monday.

The passenger, in a wheelchair, was unable to get off the burning NICE bus when the hydraulic lift stopped working. And that's when Jean Jeune jumped into action and carried the woman out.

"I told her, 'put your arms around me like we are in love,'" he said. "And then we got out."

He can laugh about it now, three days after his quick-thinking saved Cindy March's life.

"Without even thinking, he undid the safety belt, picked me and carried me down," she said.

March admits she wouldn't not have escaped the inferno Thursday afternoon without some sort of help, as walking down the stairs is something the 54-year-old is unable to do.

"In training, they teach you don't panic, in case something happens," Jeune said. "When you pick up a passenger, there is your responsibility to be protective of her. So that's what I do."

It was a job done so well that Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano honored Jeune for his life-saving heroics.

"We want to recognize Jean for his bravery, his heroism, and his swift thinking," Mangano said. "His safety and knowledge and action all came into effect to make sure his patrons were safe, our passengers and our citizens."

It was an emotional reunion for both parties.

"We were laughing, we are crying, and she is here," Jeung said. "I am happy seeing her a second time again. We don't know what happened, but here, being present here, is a great honor for me."

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but fire officials said they'll likely never know why it started.
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