A Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) bus driver is being called a hero this week after her quick actions potentially saved the life of a kindergartner.

With her bus full of students waiting at the end of the line to depart Hawthorne Elementary on Monday afternoon, bus driver Yvonne “Ms. Bunny” Wilson was alerted by students that one of their peers was in severe distress, according to a press release from the district.

Wilson picked the girl up and carried her outside the bus while performing a one-handed Heimlich maneuver. The obstruction in the girl’s throat — a piece of hard candy — became dislodged. The Hawthorne school nurse checked the student. Despite being rattled, she was healthy and was permitted to ride the bus home with her older sibling, who witnessed the incident.

Wilson, a mother and grandmother who has driven a JCPS bus for 11 years, said she learned the one-handed Heimlich maneuver, as well as CPR, in biannual training that all JCPS bus drivers are required to take. The one-handed Heimlich is suggested for small children, and Wilson has used the technique on her own children.

“What I did was just something that had to be done,” Wilson said. “I’m glad she’s OK.”

As the other buses departed, Hawthorne Elementary Principal Jessica Rosenthal noticed that a bus was not moving and contacted the bus through the radio. After the frightening scene ended and the nurse examined the student, Rosenthal made a phone call to inform the girl’s mother.

“I said, ‘Your daughter is fine. She’s on the bus. When you see Ms. Bunny, you need to thank her because she saved your daughter’s life,’” Rosenthal said. “I’m a mother too. I have nightmares about my own children choking. I’m so thankful that Ms. Bunny handled herself well. From a principal’s perspective, I’m grateful to have bus drivers who are so good at their jobs that they can focus on all students. She completely stepped up to that.”

Wilson, who goes by her childhood nickname, drives for Hawthorne Elementary and Jefferson County Traditional Middle on bus 1324.

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