Upstate bus driver hailed a hero after helping choking student

(FOX Carolina)/March 29, 2018

An Upstate bus driver is being called a hero after her quick action may have saved a middle school boy's life as he choked on a sucker on board the bus.

Judy Barnett was driving the bus when the emergency unfolded. She's been driving a school bus in Laurens District 56 for more than nine years. She tells us nothing like this has ever happened on her watch, but she didn't hesitate to help.

"I made the left turn out of the school here and just as I got in front of the school I saw the student get out from the back seat and he comes running up the aisle towards me. By the time he got to me, my daughter came running up the aisle and said, 'mama he's choking on a sucker.'"

Judy said she knew it was bad when she saw the student's face. "He couldn't talk, he was already getting a purple color to him, he was changing colors."

She said her past training as a certified nursing assistant came back and she took action.

"I pulled the bus over and secured the bus and did what I should do. I jumped out of the seat and started the Heimlich Maneuver on him in the stairwell. By the time we got to the ground and walked over, it flew out of his mouth to the ground."

Judy's husband Caury Barnett is also her boss. He's the Assistant Transportation Director for Laurens District 56 and said he is incredibly proud of her.

"The first thing I did is praise her. It is very hard being a bus driver and especially when an emergency arises, sometimes you don't think on how to react and I was proud she jumped up and knew exactly what to do."

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