NORWAY — Two passersby rescued a woman from her burning car Thursday morning after it struck the back of a school bus and burst into flames near Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

The woman, identified by Norway police as Natalie Taylor, 78, of Mechanic Falls, was examined by ambulance personnel at the scene and taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital, where she was to be met by relatives. Police said she was not injured and did not need treatment at the hospital.

The school bus from School Administrative District 51 in Cumberland had no students on board. The driver was not hurt.

Witnesses said the woman’s Dodge Neon struck the rear of the bus, which was apparently pulled to the side of Route 26/Fair Street, and burst into flames.

Two men pried the driver’s door open and pulled Taylor out as flames engulfed the front of the car and the back of the school bus, witnesses said.

“All I know is I pulled her out,” Jaime Rodriguez of Minot said. “Oh, man. This is the first time I ever had to do anything like that.”


He was going into the Oxford Federal Credit Union across the street from the accident.

Rodriguez said he heard a loud bang and turned to see the car and the back of the bus in flames. Another man pried the door open and tried to pull the woman out, but she was stuck, Rodriguez said.

When Rodriguez saw the woman was stuck in her seat belt, he said his first reaction was to see if he had any sharp object he could use to cut the seat belt. When he found nothing, he said he was able to unhook the seat belt as flames and thick black smoke enveloped the interior of the car.

“You couldn’t even see the back of the school bus,” he said.

Rodriguez said the woman was responsive and was asking where her glasses were.

Nathaniel Krasny, 16, of Norway, who was walking by to an appointment, said he saw the Dodge Neon crash into the back of the bus. He said speed did not appear to be a factor.


The bus driver, identified by Norway police as John Willis of Cumberland, declined to comment.

Scott Poulin, director of finance, human resources and operations for SAD 51, said the students on the bus had been dropped off in Norway, where they were participating in an environmental event.

“My biggest concern was that there were no students on the bus and the driver was unhurt,” Poulin said.

He said it appeared from initial reports that the bus was pulled over on the side of the road when the accident happened.

Fair Street between Green and Main streets reopened at 11 a.m.

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