Hero school bus driver breaks silence after keeping kids safe during hijacking

Kenneth Corbin helped keep 18 children onboard his bus calm and protected when a gunman tried to hijack the vehicle earlier this month.
6:55 | 05/17/21

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Transcript for Hero school bus driver breaks silence after keeping kids safe during hijacking
Now to our ABC news exclusive with a school bus driver in South Carolina who kept his cool during an armed hijacking, helping all 18 children on board walk away we're going to speak with Kenneth Corbin. There he is. We're going to speak to him live in just a moment, but first, janai Norman has that story. Reporter: This was the heart-stopping moment an army trainee used a rifle to hijack a South Carolina school bus with 18 children inside earlier this month. Close the door. Drive. Reporter: Bus driver Kenneth Corbin keeping his cool and the children safe for six painstaking minutes. 10-year-old keondre James was one of the students on board. I was calling my dad and I was telling him I was being held hostage. Reporter: The gunman eventually letting Corbin and the children get out to safety. Police identifying the gunman as 23-year-old Jo van Collazo, and he faces 19 counts of kidnapping. Corbin had recently completed annual training, about what to do if a bus is taken hostage. You can hear how calm he was, how controlled he was, and how his training was put to good use. Reporter: State officials honoring Corbin Friday for being a hero under extreme pressure. For "Good morning America," janai Norman, ABC news, new York. Our thanks to janai, and joining us now is Kenneth Corbin. Good morning, Mr. Corbin. Thank you so much for your time, and you heard janai. Good morning. Good morning to you, sir. Janai just referred to you as a hero. Others have said that about you as well, but you say, nope. The praise should go to the students on board. Why do you feel that way? Well, actually at the very end the kids were the one that actually got the gentleman off of the bus, and they pretty much had my back as much as my concerns were with them, and 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. That was about it. So it was the interaction that was going on with the students that was frustrating him? Well, yes. As we were traveling, I guess he realized there were several students on the bus and kind of scattered throughout the bus and 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 Kinder garteners. They started asking questions, was he a soldier? He answered -- seemed like he hesitantly answered, but he said yes, I'm a soldier. They wanted to know why -- they asked him, why are you doing this? He never did have an answer for this one. They asked, was he going to hurt 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, and 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. That was pretty much the point. Just chills hearing your account like that. What was going through your mind, sir, when all this was happening? Well, when it first happened, I realized that, you know, he had a weapon when he presented the weapon pretty much after I told him -- he was coming up the steps, and I -- the first thing I tell him is, you know, push my hands out and tell him they're not allowed on the bus and I had to tell him that twice, and when I told him that, that's when he presented his weapon and told me to close the door and move and drive and drive, and from that point on, it was just a matter of staying calm and following his instructions and thinking about the kids because I didn't want to do anything that would, you know, rile him to cause him to do something that would bring harm to the kids. Yes, sir. His main objective was to get to the next town. He asked me how far was the next town, and I just pretty much told him, 15 to 20 miles, and it seemed like about every 500 feet or less he wanted to know how far to go, how much farther, and after that, we approached a traffic light, and he asked me to speed up, or told me to speed up and don't let the red light catch me and we got through that light, and that's when he moved the kids up front, and then he wanted to know, again, how far, and all I could say was 20 miles because we haven't gone that far, and then he wanted to know where the next town was, so I told him we were going to have to go to Kershaw county, and we were headed that way, highway 12 Columbia, but I could say shortly after that, the kids got him frustrated, and in the end, I don't -- we may have gone four miles before we got off the bus. I'm glad that everybody was safe and sound, and before we go, you referred to your -- I was a school bus driver as well. What do we refer to our students on that bus? What do we say? What do we refer to them as? We call them precious cargo. Precious cargo indeed. And that morning, you know, that was so evident that they were precious cargo, and I pretty much just had to just do whatevr, you know, to get them off the bus safe and sound, and it seemed like they were going to do the same thing by me, and that's why I refer to them as my heroes. Yes. Y'all had each other's backs. Mr. Kenneth Corbin, thank you so much, sir, for being with us. Yep. They are very, very fortunate to have you as their school bus driver. You take care. Our best. Thank you. Thank you. Take care. You're welcome. Take care of that precious cargo. He sure did. Coming up next, the tiger

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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