Wisconsin eighth grader takes the wheel of his school bus after driver loses consciousness

It was a normal end to the school day in late April for Acie Holland III, an eighth grader at Glen Hills Middle School in Glendale, Wisconsin.

He followed his routine and got on the school bus to go home. The bus driver joked with students, Holland said, before putting on her headphones.

Then things took a sudden turn.

From his seat past the middle of the bus, Holland said the bus driver looked a little sick or tired and her head dropped. He knew something was wrong when she continued to press the gas and missed a street.

“She turned the corner and there’s another street that we usually turn on. She pressed the gas and went past the corner, and I looked up,” Holland told CNN.

He walked to the front of the bus to check on her, but she didn’t respond, he said. She had temporarily lost consciousness and the bus was veering into oncoming traffic. Holland rushed to move her foot off of the gas. He said he applied the brakes and safely parked the bus.

“I wasn’t really scared, I was just trying to get the bus to stop,” he said.

After stopping the bus, Holland contacted 911 and his grandmother, who is a nurse assistant. He also instructed the other 13-15 students on board to call their families.

“Everybody was just like, ‘thank you’ because I saved their life,” said Holland, who hopes to one day own a barber shop or mechanic shop.

Glen Hills Middle School Principal Anna Young wrote in a note to families that the “community could not be any prouder of Acie.”

“The compassion and leadership that we see him exhibit daily was taken to the next level on his bus ride home yesterday. We are grateful that all of our Glen Hills students are safe and are wishing their driver a healthy recovery,” she continued.

Eventually, the driver regained consciousness and called the bus company, Riteway, which sent another driver to take the students home safely.

According to the school principal, the driver experienced a medical emergency and was receiving care.

Holland’s parents are incredibly proud and relieved.

At first, Holland’s father, Acie Holland II, didn’t believe him when he heard the story later that day.

“Dad, I saved the school bus from crashing,” he told him. Ultimately, the story didn’t surprise him.

“He’s always been a person where he’s real quick on his feet. That’s one of my things that I know he’s capable of, not on the school bus, but just in general, being able to help someone in need,” Holland’s father told CNN. “But I am proud of what he did.”

The small, tight-knit community continues to show its pride since the incident. At a school board meeting earlier this week, Holland gained recognition through a proclamation from the mayor and city council. The Glendale Police Department and the Milwaukee Fire Department also praised his heroics.

Holland had some previous experience with vehicles. Since he was little, he’s been working with his father, a certified auto technician.

“It was like he was in the right place at the right time. So it was, it was meant to be for a variety of reasons, the most important being for the safety of others,” Young said.

Holland appreciates all the recognition he’s been getting. He says he’s just glad he was able to get everyone home safely. He says this experience has given him more self-assurance.

“I feel more confident with having a fight or flight moment,” he said.

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