Driver of hijacked school bus hailed as hero, shares her story

JACKSONVILLE (KATV)--School and city leaders, along with police and parents honor those who saved the lives of 11 elementary students and a bus driver.

This after a man hijacked a Pulaski County Special School District bus.

Last Thursday, 22-year-old Nicholas Miller reportedly stepped foot on a PCSSD bus with a knife, demanding the bus driver to drive.

An emotional day for many, as everyone remains thankful that no one was hurt.

The driver, Sheila Hart, was presented with a key to the city by Jacksonville Mayor, Gary Fletcher.

The mother, Karlena Lipari, who was the first to call 911, was also recognized

Law enforcement was also given recognition.

Tonight, we hear first hand encounters of that chilling situation.

"He jumped on the bus and said drive and I said what? He flipped the knife out and said drive, shut the door and drive, and that's what I did. I said OK, where do you want to go and what's wrong," said Hart.

A 20-year veteran bus driver, Hart describes the hijacking as surreal.

After driving three blocks, the alleged hijacker 22--year-old Nicholas Miller demanded to drive, prompting Hart to pull over.

"He didn't even want me to stop the bus, he wanted me to switch with him while the bus was rolling, I said no we can't do that," added Hart.

She says her maternal instinct kicked in, knowing she had to keep 11 elementary students alive.

"One girl told me she was scared, and I told her we were going to be OK, just don't cry," explained Hart.

Another hero, a mother, Karlena Lipari, was the first to have contact with the alleged hijacker when he approached her at the bus stop, asking her where her car was.

"I said I really don't have one and he opened his knife up, and he goes it would be in your best interest to tell me where your car is," said Lipari.

Lipari says Miller walked away from her.

The mother goes on to say she was watching her daughter, the first in line, with three students following as they crossed the street to get on the bus.

However, Lipari stopped them.

"I said stop, she stopped, and they all came back to where I was at," added Lipari.

It was after that, when Lipari witnessed the alleged hijacker walking onto the bus.

"I was looking at Ms. Hart and I was trying to mouth to her that he has a knife, and then when he got on the bus and she looks at me, I just, I got really scared," said Lipari.

Hart told Channel 7 keeping her cool and cooperating with the alleged hijacker kept them safe.

She even let him use her cell phone, and get this, dialed the numbers for him.

Hart said the suspect was calling his mother and father.