Saturday, July 13, 2024

Bus Driver Says Soldier Who Allegedly Hijacked Bus Full of Kindergartners Grew Weary of Students\’ Questions

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Close Up of School Bus

As any parent can attest, kids of a certain age like to ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. And now, a South Carolina bus driver says he believes it was their inquisitive natures that saved the lives of the students on his bus two weeks ago, when an abdicated Army trainee with a rifle allegedly hijacked it.

Longtime school bus operator Kenneth Corbin kept his cool on May 6 when a man — since identified by the Richland County Sheriff's Office as 23-year-old Jovan Collazo — allegedly boarded the bus with a weapon and ordered him to drive to the next town.

But, being on a bus packed with overly curious kids turned out to be too much for Collazo, who, after six minutes, had Corbin pull over.

The driver and 18 students aboard were ordered off the bus, and police allege that Collazo then drove off in it, traveling several more miles before ditching the vehicle.

Speaking to Robin Roberts this week on Good Morning America, Corbin brushed off the "hero" label, instead applying it to those students he takes to school each morning.

"The kids were the ones that actually got the gentleman off of the bus," Corbin insisted to Roberts. "They pretty much had my back as much as my concerns were with them, and at the end, when they started questioning him, it seemed to have frustrated him."

Corbin said the nagging barrage of inquiries — including whether the man dressed in fatigues was a soldier, and if he planned on hurting them and their bus driver — got to Collazo.

"I think we only rode about four miles and he just got frustrated with the questions and just told me to stop the bus and just get off," Corbin recalled, telling Roberts that Collazo assured the children they were safe.

"He said, 'All I'm gonna do is take y'all and just put you off the bus,' and from that point seemed like he sensed more questions coming," Corbin added. "It seemed like something clicked in his mind and said, 'Enough — enough already!,' and he just told me to stop."

Collazo, who is from New Jersey but had been stationed at Fort Jackson in Columbia, remains in police custody following his arrest.

He has yet to enter pleas to the 19 counts of kidnapping and individual counts of carjacking, possessing a weapon on school property, armed robbery and weapons possession during a violent crime he has been charged with.

Police allegedly found the rifle he had brandished before boarding the bus inside the abandoned vehicle. There was no ammunition in the gun, and at the time of his arrest, Collazo was not in possession of any ammunition. 

Collazo had only begun basic training three weeks prior to the alleged hijacking. Investigators believe he wanted to return to New Jersey.

PEOPLE has been unable to identify an attorney for Collazo.

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