Driver Praised After School Bus Blast: 'Courage on Wheels'

Quick-thinking Kia Rousseve, 28, got kids off her bus moments before it exploded in New Orleans
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2024 8:27 AM CDT

A young bus driver in Louisiana is being credited with saving the children in her charge after she got them all off the bus just moments before the vehicle exploded. Kia Rousseve, 28, tells that she was driving her regular route on Wednesday morning through the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans when her bus started losing power and emitting smoke. "My instinct is like, 'No, this is not normal,'" she says, noting that she pulled over, then grabbed her purse and the eight or nine kids who were on the bus with her, ranging from kindergartners to eighth-graders, and exited the vehicle.

Moments later, the bus exploded and was engulfed in flames (WWL-TV has a picture of the burned-out bus). "All I heard was boom, boom, boom," Rousseve tells KSLA. "I was like, 'Oh, my God, the bus blew up.'" Her employer, Community Academies of New Orleans, is now calling Rousseve "courage on wheels," and her supervisor issued a statement praising her for her bravery. "Her ability to stay calm in the face of danger, ensuring not a single child came to harm is nothing short of heroic," the statement notes, per WWL-TV

Rousseve is irked at what the Guardian deems the "corporate absurdity" that took place after Wednesday's incident: Rousseve says she was drug tested, as if she'd gotten into a crash, even though she and other colleagues suspect a faulty alternator. The drug test came back negative. "For me to save my life and them kids' lives," Rousseve says, "that was a real good thing that I did." As for getting back behind the wheel, Rousseve, a mom herself who's been driving school buses for three years, says she's now struggling with her fear. "I'm really ... not sleeping," she tells "It's just been a lot going on." (More uplifting news stories.)

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