The bus driver sat slouched in her seat, knocked unconscious after a middle school student allegedly punched her several times as he walked off the bus Thursday afternoon in north Baton Rouge.
Then the bus, carrying about half a dozen students on Linden Street near North Foster Drive, started rolling and picked up some speed before another student jumped up, hit the brakes and called 911 for help.
“I told them our bus driver was knocked out,” said Tay’veon Slaughter, the 14-year-old eighth-grader who took control of the bus. “The bus was still moving, so I had to step up and stop it.”
Keith Bromery, an East Baton Rouge Parish School System spokesman, said Slaughter’s actions helped prevent a difficult situation from turning into a disaster.
“You had one youngster who did what he needed to correct the situation or at least mitigate it,” Bromery said.
All of the students on the bus at the time of the incident were from Christa McAuliffe Superintendent’s Academy, an alternative middle school for students who are two or more years behind in their academic studies. After first responders arrived, the bus driver was taken to a hospital where she was treated and later released, Bromery said.
Baton Rouge police later arrested the 15-year-old student accused of punching out the bus driver. The student, whose name was not released, left the scene but subsequently was brought to the Police Department’s 1st District precinct on Plank Road by his mother, police said.
Slaughter said prior to the attack, the 15-year-old boy was throwing objects outside an open window and spitting at other cars on the road. The bus driver told the student to stop, he said.
Slaughter, who was sitting at the front of the bus, said the bus eventually arrived at the boy’s stop on Linden Street. As the boy was walking out of the bus, Baton Rouge police said he punched the driver several times, knocking the 26-year-old woman unconscious.
When the woman woke up, Slaughter said she didn’t know she had been punched.
“She didn’t know that her face was swollen,” he said. “She didn’t know that she got knocked out.”
After emergency responders arrived, officers took statements from students. A second bus came later and took the remaining students home, Slaughter said.
After the 15-year-old boy turned himself in at the police station, authorities booked him into the East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Detention Center on counts of battery of a school employee, second-degree battery and aggravated obstruction of a roadway, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a police spokesman.
Bromery, the school system spokesman, said the seventh-grade student who allegedly punched the bus driver was recommended for expulsion following the incident. In the meantime, he’s suspended from school.
The incident did not mark the first time a student has been accused of punching a bus driver in East Baton Rouge Parish. A 17-year-old boy allegedly punched a bus driver, knocking out some of the driver’s teeth, near Belaire High School in October 2013. Another time, an 18-year-old girl allegedly punched a bus driver while the vehicle was in motion on Burbank Drive near Bluebonnet Boulevard in October 2011, causing the driver to slam on the brakes and nearly rear-end the vehicle in front of it.
Asked what his fellow students were doing after their driver was knocked unconscious, Slaughter said, “They kind of went crazy.”
“The bus was moving. The bus driver was knocked out,” he said. “So I stood and thought for a second.”
And then, “I did what I had to do,” Slaughter said.
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