IRETON, Ia. — A daycare owner in Iowa is praising God after successfully rescuing from her van the seven children that she was watching minutes before it was engulfed in flames.
Tara Dekkers, 36, runs a daycare at her home in Ireton, and on Friday, she loaded the seven children that she was watching into her 15-passenger van as she needed to pick up her own children from school.
However, on the way to school, Dekkers heard a “pop” and could smell smoke inside the vehicle. She pulled over and decided to remove all the children from the van.
As she exited the van, she noticed that the situation was extremely serious.
“After I ran around the front of the van to open the door to the side to get the kids out, I saw flames,” Dekkers told the Quad City Times. “I just moved as fast I could to get everyone out.”
As some of the children were having difficulty unbuckling their seat belts, she helped them out and instructed them to run toward the ditch.
An unidentified man, who is simply being recognized as a Good Samaritan, saw the vehicle in flames and pulled over to help. He placed the children in his truck so that they could stay safe and warm.
“One at a time, I would untie them and get them out of the van and hand them off to the guy and he would run them to the truck,” Dekkers explained.
Moments after Dekkers rescued all the children from the van, it became completely engulfed in flames.
The parents of the children are now commending Dekkers for acting fast to save their children’s lives.
“I would not have my children here with me if she wouldn’t have acted fast. I consider Tara a hero,” mother Ellie Piepe told local television station KTIV. “I’m very thankful for what she has done.”
But Dekkers is giving the credit to God for giving her the wisdom and strength to the handle the frightening ordeal.
“He was the one who was with me,” she told reporters. “He was the one who made it all possible for me to get them all out.”
“I think that I did what anyone would do in that situation,” Dekker added, “and I just praise God that he gave me the clarity and the quickness to get them all out before the van went up in flames.”
Investigators have concluded that a mechanical failure was the cause of the fire.