TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When an SUV pulled in front of her school bus and a man pointed a gun at high schoolers she had just dropped off, Kendra Hankerson put herself in the line of fire.
The School District of Palm Beach County driver pulled her bus forward, positioning herself between the gunman and her students. The teens ran away, and the gunman and his cohorts left the scene.
Hankerson then delivered the rest of her passengers directly to their homes.
For her courageous actions on that March afternoon last year, Hankerson was honored Monday as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) 2009 School Bus Operator of the Year.
The award was presented at the state Capitol on Monday as part of FDLE’s Florida Missing Children’s Day. Gov. Charlie Crist and other state officials were on hand to honor Hankerson and other award recipients.
“Your quick thinking and response protected your students, ensured that they all arrived safely home and assisted law enforcement in the arrest and prosecution of the criminals that threatened them,” Donna Uzzell, director of the FDLE’s Criminal Justice Information Program, said to Hankerson in the award presentation.
The bus driver’s description of the men and the incident led to their identification and multiple charges of false imprisonment, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon at a school bus stop.
The gun had reportedly appeared to be a hunting rifle, but police later determined that it was a BB gun.