WARREN, Mich. — A middle school student is being hailed as a hero for grabbing the steering wheel of a moving school bus and bringing it to a stop after the driver passed out at the wheel on Wednesday.
The incident happened just before 3 p.m. as the bus driver was taking 66 students home from Cater Middle School in Warren, The Detroit News reported. Superintendent Robert Livernois said the driver radioed officials after she began to feel dizzy and said she would pull the bus over.
Video released by the school district shows the driver fanning herself with her hat and slowing the bus down before she passes out.
“Fortunately, traffic was light,” Livernois said at a news conference Thursday. “As the bus was slowing down, it started to veer into what would have been oncoming traffic. And this caught the attention of Dillon, who was about five rows or so back in the bus.”
Livernois said Dillon Reeves assessed the situation and saw that the driver had lost consciousness.
“In my 35-plus years of education, this was an extraordinary act of courage and maturity on his part,” the superintendent said. “He jumped up from his seat, threw his backpack down, ran to the front of the bus, grabbed the steering wheel and brought the bus to a stop in the middle of the road.”
Video shows Dillon slowing down the bus as students apparently begin to realize that something is wrong. Students begin to shout and scream as Dillon orders someone to “Call 911! Now!”
A pedestrian and a woman who was in a car traveling behind the bus helped to check the driver and get students evacuated from the vehicle. Police and fire officials arrived within 3 or 4 minutes, Livernois said.
Dillon’s mom, Ireta Reeves, said she realized that something was wrong with the bus after seeing a group of kids run to the park after it stopped near the family’s home. She went up to the park but didn’t see her son. She said she called her husband, Steve Reeves, to see if he had gotten a call from the school when he got a call from police.
“A police officer called me and my first response was, ‘What the heck did he do?’” Steve Reeves said. “And they’re like, ‘No, no, no, this is a good call.’ He goes, ‘Your son’s a hero.’”
The Reeveses said Dillon has driven golf carts and has been sitting on his dad’s lap while driving on country roads since he was 4.
“I asked him, ‘Dillon, how did you know what to do? How did you know how to drive that bus?’ And he said, ‘I watch her do it every day.’ So he pays very close attention to everybody,” Ireta Reeves said.
The couple described their son as a quiet boy who keeps a small friend group and dreams of becoming a police officer, or a hockey player, or a firefighter one day.
“(He’s an) average kid at home,” Steve Ireta said. “He likes watching YouTube videos and plays basketball. He throws his rollerblades on instantly when he gets home and he’s usually out in the middle of the street with his beat-up net just shooting pucks at it.”
It was not immediately clear what caused the driver, who has not been identified, to pass out. Livernois said that school officials do not believe she was under the influence although mandatory tests are ongoing. She remained hospitalized on Thursday, the superintendent said.
The driver joined the school district in July 2022. Prior to that, she had to pass a medical test and no issues cropped up, Livernois said.