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School bus drivers are unsung heroes. Driving a full-size bus is a difficult enough task. But school bus drivers must also deal with misbehaving kids and many go above-and-beyond to make connections with their students. Florida bus driver Mayrelyn Lopez went one step further, saving a choking third grader’s life.

It was the end of December and the students had enjoyed a holiday party at school. On the drive home, things got a bit rowdy. At one stop, Lopez noticed what she tactfully called a “disruption” at the back of the bus. So she stood up and walked down the aisle to resolve things. I’d bet she just had students misbehaving and had to tell them off.

Lopez later said, “Thank God,” that she walked back up the aisle “at the right moment.” Halfway up the bus, eight-year-old Levi Holder was turning purple.

The windshield of a school bus.
School Bus | Austin Pacheco via Unsplash

Lopez said, “Hey, what’s going on?” Then realized he couldn’t answer because he was choking. She says, “I was scared,” but her instincts kicked in anyway. Without thinking, she bent down behind him and did the Heimlich Maneuver, driving her hands into his stomach to dislodge whatever was in his throat.

What did Holder cough up? A piece of candy from the school holiday party. And he started breathing immediately. Lopez moved Holder to the front of the bus to keep an eye on him. When she got to his house, she handed him off to his mother personally.

Why did Lopez do it? She said, “I’d want somebody (to) help my kids if they are in that situation.”

The local news caught up with Levi Holder to ask about the incident. He had a message for Lopez: “Thank you for saving my life.”