Eighth-graders step up when bus driver goes unconscious, save the day

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Credit: WINK News.

A group of students received a big thank you after they stepped up to help their bus driver and look after fellow students. When a school bus driver felt light headed at the wheel, she had no choice but to pull over. We know the driver pulled over the bus at an extremely busy intersection. Now, we also know about the actions of some young heroes.

When a Lee County bus driver pulled over on Pine Island Road in North Fort Myers with traffic zooming by, three students from North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts jumped into action.

Eight-graders Gabriella Rodriguez, Yoan Tavarez and Joselyn Lemus earned the right to sit at the back of the bus as middle schoolers.

“We have a lot of little kids, and like we have to take care of those,” Joselyn Lemus said. “We’re like the bigger ones on the bus.”

The students knew what to do when their bus driver pulled over to the side of the road.

“She fell on the floor, and the radio was all the way over there,” Yoan Tavarez said. “I grabbed it. I started talking, and I was worried at the same time. I just kept telling them my bus driver passed out.”

The voice on the other side of the radio told Tavarez to move his driver and check her pulse.

“There are little kids on the bus, and I just wanted to be as calm as possible,” Tavarez said.

Meanwhile, Lemus called the school.

“I took my phone and peaked out to hear them better,” Lemus said. “That’s how I called them.”

Rodriguez made more calls, first to 911 and then to moms and dads.

“There were 17 kids on the bus, and 10 of them were elementary schoolers. So, of course, like they freaked out,” Rodriguez said. “A lot of them are crying, and they just like needed somebody that they knew. I didn’t know them all personally. So they needed to talk to someone who could help them.”

What they did was brave, but they were honest about the emotions they felt.

“I was just kind of panicking at the same time,” Tavarez said.

Still, the middle schoolers kept everyone safe, including their bus driver.

“I am proud for all the students,” bus driver Maria Lopez said. “I am very, very happy.”

First responders took Lopez to the hospital. They still don’t know why she went unconscious. But, luckily, three students stepped up.

Sometimes it’s fine if kids don’t act their own age.

“She could have died. I don’t know,” Tavarez said. “The other kids were just panicking. I stepped into action and just did what I had to do.”

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