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Bus driver saves 9-year-old girl’s life in Harrison County, family honors him

Harrison County School District bus driver Robert Morgan gives fourth-grader Ella Harper a hug...
Harrison County School District bus driver Robert Morgan gives fourth-grader Ella Harper a hug Friday as the family had a special "thank you" moment after he saved Ella from choking to death a week ago.(wlox)
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 7:27 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - A Harrison County family is praising a school district bus driver after he saved the life of their 9-year-old child last week. And today, they made their “thank you” official.

As a Harrison County School bus driver for 15 years, Robert Morgan is used to keeping kids safe on the road. But this is the first time he’s had to save a child from choking to death.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this on a school bus in the 15 years that I’ve driven,” he said. “I’m glad that I was there to help her through her time of need, and I’m just grateful she’s ok.”

The family of fourth-grader Ella Harper wanted to make their “thank you” to Robert special on Friday with gifts and praise.

Robert has driven Ella to school since she was in kindergarten. Last Thursday, just a mile from her home, he saved her life.

“I think I took too big of a bite, and when I took too big of a bite, it got stuck in my throat,” Ella said. “My friend took me up to the bus driver and she told him what was going on. He pulled the bus over, he took his seatbelt off and he did the Heimlich maneuver on me. And I’m so happy he was there with me.”

She thought the worst while she struggled to breathe.

“I thought I wouldn’t be able to see my grandma again,” she said. “I thought I was going to die that day.”

Her mother, Sherri Wheat, knew something bad had happened when she saw Robert after he dropped Ella off at home.

“When I saw Robert, like physically, I could tell something was wrong,” she said. “Because it was like, he didn’t have his composure all the way. Like, he was shaking.”

She knew him only as a bus driver. Now, he’s much more.

“He will always hold a special place in my heart for what he did,” she said.

Like all other school bus drivers in Harrison County, Robert is trained in first aid and CPR.

“Ella is a precious little girl,” he said. “She’s been on my bus since kindergarten. So, it’s been four or five years and she’s one of my babies and we take care of them.”

And now, Ella’s learned a new lesson.

“Now, I’m just scared to eat on the bus again,” she said.

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