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Hero bus driver saves 9 kids before school bus goes up in flames

"I thought about them kids like it was my own child."

March 20, 2024, 10:41 AM

A Louisiana school bus driver is being hailed a hero after she jumped into action and helped nine children off a school bus before the vehicle was engulfed in flames.

Kia Rousseve, a bus driver for Community Academies of New Orleans, was on her way to her fifth bus stop along her usual route on March 13 when she realized something was wrong and her mother's instinct kicked in.

"I put my motherhood on. I have a child, so I thought about them kids like it was my own child," Rousseve told "Good Morning America."

PHOTO: School bus driver Kia Rousseve helped nine children off the school bus they were traveling in before the vehicle was engulfed in flames.
School bus driver Kia Rousseve helped nine children off the school bus they were traveling in before the vehicle was engulfed in flames.
The Exchange

The 28-year-old said she first knew something wasn't right when the school bus she was driving started to lose power.

"The bus started acting crazy and started jerking and going real, real slow," Rousseve recalled.

The incident was caught on a nearby security camera. In the footage, Rousseve is seen pulling over, and a bystander runs to let her know that flames are coming from underneath the school bus.

Rousseve said she then quickly gathered the young students inside the bus, who are in kindergarten through eighth grade, and led them off and away from the vehicle.

PHOTO: The school bus Kia Rousseve was driving caught fire on March 13, 2024.
The school bus Kia Rousseve was driving caught fire on March 13, 2024.
The Exchange

"I just had to stay calm for the kids because there was crying and running up the street, and I had to get them together, you know, make sure they were straight," Rousseve said.

Moments later, the front of the bus went up in flames.

PHOTO: Kia Rousseve, a bus driver for Community Academies of New Orleans, appears on "Good Morning America," March 20, 2024.
Kia Rousseve, a bus driver for Community Academies of New Orleans, appears on "Good Morning America," March 20, 2024.
ABC News

Rousseve's employer, Community Academies of New Orleans, called her quick thinking and actions "courage on wheels."

"We could have lost our lives. That's what I've been thinking a lot," Rousseve said. "Every time I look at the pictures and like, wow, my seat was the first thing that caught on fire."

"I was just glad that I was being a hero to the kids and being a hero to myself by getting them off the bus," she added.