A school bus driver in South Carolina is being nationally praised for fending off an armed hijacker who abandoned his Army post earlier this month. But the heroic transportation worker says it’s really the 18 kids on board who deserve all the credit.
“As we were traveling, I guess he realized there were several students on the bus — kind of scattered throughout,” Kenneth Corbin said during an interview with Good Morning America on Monday. “He decided to move all the students up front so he could keep us all in close proximity, and when he did that, especially some of my kindergarteners, they started asking questions.”
Corbin said the children inquired as to whether the hijacker was a solider. To which he “hesitantly” said “yes.”
The bus driver elaborated on the questions that saved the day:
They asked him, “Why are you doing this?” He never did have an answer for this one. They asked, was he going to hurt them? He said “No.” They asked, “Are you going to hurt our bus driver?” He said, “No. I’m going to put you off the bus.” He sensed more questions coming and I guess something clicked in his mind and he said, “Enough is enough already,” and he told me to “Stop the bus, and just get off.”
“It was so evident that they were precious cargo and I pretty much just had to just do whatever–to get them off the bus safe and sound,” Corbin continued. “It seemed like they were going to do the same thing by me, and that’s why I refer to them as my heroes.”
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott identified the suspect as 23-year-old Fort Jackson trainee Jovan Collazo during a recent press conference. According to Lott, Collazo “told the bus driver he didn’t want to hurt him, but he wanted him to drive him to the next town.”
According to the Army Times, Collazo first attempted to hitchhike back home via Interstate 77 but failed to do so and boarded the school bus at one of its scheduled stops.
Surveillance video appears to show the escaped trainee pointing an M4 carbine at Corbin as he enters and makes demands. After six minutes, the crowded ride was over. Collazo was apparently worn out by the steady stream of children’s questions.
“The kids started asking lots of questions to the suspect if he was going to hurt them or the bus driver,” Lott said. “The suspect got a little frustrated.”
“The kids were the ones that actually got the gentleman off of the bus and they pretty much had my back as much as my concerns were with them,” Corbin said. “At the end when they started questioning him, it seemed to have frustrated him because his main objective were to get to the next town, but I think we were only on the road about four miles and he just got frustrated with the questions and just told me to stop the bus and get off. All y’all get off now.”
After that, Collazo allegedly drove the bus a few more miles on his own before abandoning the vehicle with his Army-issued rifle inside.
The rifle was unloaded but Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr. said during a press conference that neither the children nor Corbin could have known about the lack of ammunition.
Authorities believe the New Jersey-born defendant was trying to make his way back to the Garden State after three weeks of basic training. He is currently in custody and charged with two dozen crimes–including 19 counts of kidnapping.
As a result of the Collazo episode, Fort Jackson trainees are currently barred from handling weapons.
[image via screengrab/Good Morning America]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]