EXCLUSIVE: Family calls Hilton bus driver a hero for saving child's life

April 04, 2019 11:45 PM

HILTON, N.Y. (WHEC) -- A Hilton bus driver is being called a hero after performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking child.

Tuesday morning was already stressful enough for 5th grader Maya Card.


She rode the bus to school where she would have to take state tests. When she arrived at school, Maya began eating her breakfast while still sitting on the bus.

"I was eating and I was talking a little bit," Maya said, "then, all of a sudden, the bagel went down my throat and then it got stuck."

While choking on her bagel, Maya turned to her friend, 6th grader Eden Caruso, for help.

"She couldn't talk, so I was banging on her back," Eden said. "I was like 'Jordan you gotta go get the bus driver.'"

While Eden used the tools she learned in babysitting class, another friend alerted bus driver Rebecca Gates.

"She told me to take off my book bag," Maya said. "She was like squishing my stomach so I can get it out of my throat."

Gates performed the Heimlich maneuver and in a matter of seconds, Maya could breathe again.

Maya's mother Brianne Card says Gates is a hero.

"Thank you so much for saving my little girl's life. You really went above and beyond and I appreciate everything you do every day," Brianne said. 

Brianne says she and Maya both agree that Maya won't be eating on the bus anymore. 

For Maya, she hopes this incident encourages others to appreciate their bus drivers a little more. 

"I feel very thankful and stuff but I sort of feel bad because bus drivers don't normally get credit for helping kids," she said.

Maya says she no longer eats bagels anymore, now she will be having waffles for breakfast at home.

The Hilton Central School District has praised Gates in social media posts and on their website.

"Rebecca went above and beyond to secure this student's safety and I am glad that she is part of this special department," said Joe LaMarca, transportation director.


Kaci Jones

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