Heroic bus driver says he always feared attack

“I thought about it. I wasn’t afraid for myself, I was afraid for the children,” says Zion Yamini, “I always left my house with a heavy heart.”

April 11, 2011 01:21
2 minute read.
Damaged bus hit by an anti-tank missile, Thursday

Negev bus mortar attack 311 Reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

The flames and smoke did not deter school-bus driver Zion Yamini from pulling his one passenger, Daniel Viflic, 16, to safety.

As the Beit Shemesh teenager fought for his life in Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba on Sunday, Yamini recalled for the media the fateful moment when an anti-tank missile hit his school bus last Thursday afternoon.

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As he stood outside his Negev home in Kibbutz Ruhama in the late afternoon, Yamini described how he had just left the Nahal Oz Kibbutz, and was on his way to the Sa’ad intersection, when an explosion rocked his bus.

The tires burst. The windows shattered. All the doors on the bus opened from the force of the blast, he said. The bus was filled with smoke from the flames, he added.

Somehow, Yamini said, he was able to pull the bus to the side. Then he saw Viflic, and said he knew the teen was so badly wounded that he would not be able to exit the bus on his own.

“I said to myself, you need all your strength so that you can get this child out so that he won’t burn to death on the bus,” Yamini said. “I got up and I don’t know from where I got the strength. I picked up the boy and I was able to place him on my back.

I was covered with blood and I didn’t know if it was mine or the boy’s.”

Slowly, Yamini made his way out of the vehicle with the teen and laid him gently on the ground.

The army arrived within minutes, and forced him to evacuate the scene.

“I wanted to stay with the boy, but they took me away,” he said.

He added that he knew Viflic and his family, and loved him very much.

“I only wanted the best for him,” said Yamini.

He explained that he had worked as a driver in the area for the last 26 years – traveling down that road at least once a day.

It isn’t a military road, Yamini said – it is used by civilians, including school buses like his.

In the last decade, he he said he always feared that a rocket or mortar would land on his vehicle.

“I thought about it. I wasn’t afraid for myself, I was afraid for the children,” he said. “I always left my house with a heavy heart.”

In Soroka Hospital – where Viflic’s parents have kept vigil by his bedside – his family asked the public to pray for their son.

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