A Wylie bus driver’s quick action may have saved the life of a Wylie kindergarten student during the final weeks of school.
Six-year-old Grant Loup has a severe peanut allergy, and when he unknowingly ate a single peanut butter M&M, he went to bus driver Jessie Bernal for help. Jessie immediately took him off the bus and to the school nurse.
“I’m very thankful that the bus driver took him seriously,” said Grant’s mother, Jade Loup. “He’s on the bus 45 minutes most days, and he doesn’t have access to his EpiPen. He’s too young to carry it. That would have been a very panicky situation if he had not taken him seriously.”
Although Grant is only 6, he knows that eating peanuts is very dangerous for him. That particular day, he and a friend were sitting on the bus after school, and the friend politely offered him an M&M. Grant asked his friend if the candy had peanuts, and the friend said it was chocolate.
“Grant ate it and knew immediately that it had peanuts in it,” Mrs. Loup said. Although the candy looked like a regular M&M, it was actually a peanut butter M&M.
The bus was still loading in front of Wylie East Elementary, so Grant ran up to Bernal and told him what happened.
“He scared me that day,” Bernal said. “I could tell that he was scared. I could hear it in his voice. I knew something was wrong. I just grabbed him and took him inside.”
East Elementary nurse Rainbow Montoya immediately gave Grant some Benadryl and called his mother, who works at the East Junior High.
Mrs. Loup rushed over. She gave Grant his EpiPen but still ended up taking him to the emergency room, where Grant spent about four hours and got another EpiPen.
Mrs. Loup said she discovered Grant’s peanut allergy while making peanut butter cookies when he was nine months old. While cooking, she touched the batter. She wiped her hands off before grabbing a piece of banana and handing it to her young son. He immediately started throwing up and became covered in hives.
She said she talks to Grant regularly about how dangerous peanuts are for him.
“He had another episode when he was 3,” Mrs. Loup said. “I think that experience is burned into his memory. He really understands now the severity of it.”
Bernal said he was aware of how severe peanut allergies can be because a previous rider had told him about her allergy. So when Grant came up to him that day, he sprang into action and got Grant into the school office.
“If he would have been joking, then they would have taken care of that,” Bernal said. “Any time a kid tells me something, I talk to him about it. I never take what they say for granted.”
Bernal worked for 20 years for the city of Abilene, and after he retired, he drove a bus for the AISD for a few years before coming over to Wylie three years ago. He said he loves being around the kids.
“If they ride my bus, I consider them my kids,” he said. “What I do for them, I would hope that someone would do for my kid.”
Bernal said he is thankful the bus was still parked at the school when Grant approached him. He has played in his mind what he would have done had the
incident happened in the middle of a route. Fortunately, all Wylie buses are equipped with radios.
“I would have got on the radio and turned the bus around and gotten to the nearest place for help,” he said.
He said Mrs. Loup used the bus radio to let Bernal know how grateful she was that he helped Grant that day.
“His mom got on the radio and said thanks to me for how fast I reacted,” he said. “That was an interesting day.”
By Candy Reagan