Karson Vega is still a few years away from being able to get a driver’s license. But that wasn’t on his mind when his school bus started veering out of control.

Screenshot/KXAN News

As KXAN News reports, the seventh-grader from La Grange, Texas, was on his way home from school February 1 when their bus driver suffered a “medical emergency.” As the driver missed a turn and started going in circles, the passengers began to worry. Vega told KXAN:

“He was going off in the ditch almost every turn, and then he started driving and swerving and stuff. I noticed something was wrong.”

Vega told the Fayette County Record that the driver nearly hit a few cars, but the moment that pushed him to grab the wheel occurred when they nearly drove off a large bridge. He told KVUE News:

“He was about to go off of it because I was up there trying to talk to him and tell him to stop the bus. And he said he was going to the store. So I took the wheel over and I stopped the bus. I didn’t want to die.”

Pushing the driver out of the seat wasn’t an option, so Vega did the next best thing: he sat on the driver’s lap to steer and did what he could to reach the pedals:

“He wouldn’t take his feet off [the pedal] so I kicked them over a little, so I could get the brake and stuff and turn the flashers on and everything.”

Luckily, this wasn’t the first time Vega sat behind the wheel of a big vehicle. He told KXAN his uncle once let him try driving an 18-wheeler, so he wasn’t afraid to steer the bus, as “it’s pretty much the same thing.”

The bus was travelling on a state highway with nowhere to pull over. So Vega put on the hazard lights and drove for several miles. Meanwhile, Kyler Buzek, a sophomore at La Grange High, stayed at the back of the bus, trying to keep the younger students safe and calm while he called 911.

Before Vega approached the driver, he and Buzek had gathered the younger students at the back of the bus and discussed how to handle things if there was an accident. Jax Elliot, a 7-year-old riding the bus that day, told KVUE how frightened he was:

“I think he was gonna go off the bridge.”

With Buzek guiding emergency crews from his phone, the police arrived quickly and Vega was able to stop the bus. The driver was taken to the hospital and is now recovering from the incident.

School Superintendent William Wagner says the district’s bus drivers undergo yearly physicals to avoid such situations, and that the students helped avert a tragedy. He told KXAN :

“You can’t foresee something like this. This is my 41st year in education, never experienced anything like this. I hope I don’t have to again, but I’m just very proud of our students, because in critical situations it takes people to step up, and they did.”

Vega’s mother is also proud of her son and believes fate played a role in putting him on the bus. Though she usually drives her son home from school, she was grateful her son was there and knew what to do. She told the County Record that he already knows how to drive:

“He has an obsession with anything with a motor. He’s always watching YouTube videos about how to take them apart and work on them.”

Vega’s bravery and cool-headed response has his mom seeing another side to her son’s fascination with cars. She told KXAN:

“I fight with him all the time: ‘Mom, let me drive down the road.’ Now I’m rethinking, ‘Well, I guess it’s okay.'”

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When Ailing School Bus Driver Starts Swerving off the Road, 7th-Grader Jumps in and Takes the Wheel

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