‘Courage on wheels’: Driver saves 9 children moments before school bus bursts into flames

News & Politics

A young bus driver in New Orleans, Louisiana, has been hailed as a hero after she managed to steer nine children off of their school bus just moments before it became engulfed in flames.

On Wednesday morning, 28-year-old Kia Rousseve was making her normal round as a school bus driver, a job she has held for the past three years. Before long, Rousseve began to suspect something was wrong because the bus was “jerking” about and moving unusually slowly, she later told ABC7NY. She brought the vehicle to a stop in front of a bar and pickleball facility known as the Exchange, located just across the street from the Mississippi River.

Suddenly, a bystander rushed to the bus door to tell Rousseve that the undercarriage of the bus was on fire. Rousseve said that’s when her maternal instincts kicked in. “I put my motherhood on,” she said. “I have a child. I thought about them kids like it was my own child.”

Cameras outside the Exchange caught Rousseve’s brave rescue. She quickly escorted all nine children, ranging in age from kindergarten to eighth grade, off the bus. She then made one final pass to make sure the bus was entirely evacuated before heading out the main door herself.

Within moments, the bus nearly exploded. “All I heard was ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ I was like, ‘Oh, my God, the bus blew up,'” she explained.

Some of the students were crying, and a 911 dispatcher requested EMS since “a couple kids want[ed] to get checked out.” But everyone on the bus that day, including Rousseve, walked away from the bus safely.

“We could have lost our lives,” Rousseve later realized. “That’s what I’ve been thinking a lot.”

Her employer, Community Academies of New Orleans, claimed she showed “courage on wheels” that day.

“I feel great about saving other kids’ lives and saving my life,” she said with a smile.

A preliminary investigation suggested that a faulty alternator likely caused the initial combustion. Community Academies claimed it has since examined all of its bus units for similar problems, the New York Post reported.

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