SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – When a Rowan-Salisbury school bus driver suffered a medical emergency on the bus, a fourth grader came to her rescue.

Dec. 6 didn’t start the way Rita Sturdivant wanted it to. She woke up feeling ill, but she decided she wouldn’t let it stop her from doing the job she loves.

“That morning when I got up, I did not feel like going to work, but I went anyway,” Sturdivant said.

Ms. S, as her students called her, finished running her early route for Hurley Elementary School. She was in the middle of her second route for Overton Elementary when the illness worsened. She had picked up about six kids when she knew she couldn’t go on.

“I really didn’t know what was going on, so I just started praying. I didn’t want to endanger my kids or myself,” said Sturdivant.

She pulled over the bus, put her hazard blinkers on, and called nine-year-old Rylie Miclette to the front. The fourth grader was the oldest on the bus at the time and was known for being responsible and kind.

“I felt pretty nervous. At first, I didn’t know if I was in trouble or not, and then I noticed the actions she was feeling and doing, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God. Is Ms. S ok?’” said Miclette.

Sturdivant asked Miclette to use the radio to call the school for help, but no one answered. Then, she instructed Miclette to use her cell phone to call Overton principal Marae Reid, the staff at Hurley, and Sturdivant’s daughter.

“I said, ‘Ms. S cannot talk to you right now because she’s in an emergency,’” said Miclette. “Hurley said, ‘Ok, can you please stay on the phone with me?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’”

Sturdivant’s daughter and Reid arrived at the scene around the same time. Reid stayed with the students on the bus while Sturdivant’s daughter took the 72-year-old to the hospital. They learned Sturdivant had suffered a heart attack.

Until help arrived, Miclette did not leave her beloved bus driver’s side.

“I was down on the floor, and I knew she would be afraid. But she came up there. She did all she could for me, and I am so grateful to Rylie to this day,” said Sturdivant.

Since that dire moment, the bus driver said she feels forever bonded to the fourth grader. It’s a bus ride neither of them will soon forget.

“I love Ms. Sturdivant, and I’m happy that I helped her,” Miclette said.

Sturdivant is still recovering from her heart attack but plans to return to work to finish the school year. Miclette has since moved out of the school district.