COLUMBIA, S.C. — "If we have a hero, it's the bus driver," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said last week after an armed Fort Jackson trainee allegedly hijacked a school bus and held the driver and 18 elementary school children against their will for several minutes.
A week after the hijacking, bus driver Kenneth Corbin was recognized as a hero for his role in looking after the kids and keeping them safe that morning.
On Thursday, law enforcement, elected officials and Richland School District Two and community leaders gathered at the R2I2 conference center to thank Corbin.
"In our safety meetings, we refer to our students as precious cargo. That was so evident on May 6th," Corbin said. "Our goal and job is to transport that cargo to and from school in a safe and timely manner."
"On May 6th, it was very crucial that I perform my job in the highest degree possible," explained Corbin. "I emphasize to our parents that our drivers take the job seriously."
"What I have seen in the video is him using the training he got," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. "He just went through a checklist in his head with all of the things he needed to do, and he did them all perfectly."
Richland Two superintendent Baron Davis said he had an opportunity to speak with the children involved in the situation. One week after the incident, Dr. Davis says it's time to cherish Corbin's heroics.
"Today means we get to continue to love on our students. Today means we get the opportunity to continue to meet their needs. Today, we get to continue to communicate with our families to ensure we have all of the practices and procedures in place to protect our students and staff," Davis said. "I'm extremely thankful for the training that they had. I'm very thankful that it was fresh. We are committed that our bus drivers receiving the appropriate training. You never expect something like this to happen."
During the recognition ceremony, Corbin received a resolution from South Carolina Senator Mia McLeod and thank you cards from schools across the country.