A Buffalo, N.Y., bus driver is being hailed as a hero after preventing a woman from jumping to her death from a highway overpass.
Darnell Barton, 37, had just loaded his Buffalo Metro bus with about 20 McKinley High School students when he noticed a woman had climbed over a guardrail and was leaning over the afternoon traffic that zipped along the Scajaquada Expressway beneath her.
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Barton proceeded to stop his bus next to the woman and ask her if she needed help, The Associated Press reported
The bus driver was struck with an immediate dilemma, should he call his dispatcher and notify them as is required by his employer, or should he continue his conversation with the woman, which he had been trained to do as a former volunteer with the Buffalo Special Police? Barton managed to do both, though his focus was clearly on the latter.
"It was an interesting situation, knowing what you know and knowing what you have to do," Barton told the AP in a phone interview Wednesday. "Dispatch picked up. I remember giving my location and saying, 'Send the authorities, this young lady needs help' and then dashing the phone down."
In the video captured by the bus dash cam, Barton is seen exiting the bus at which time the 20-something woman looks at him before returning her gaze to the traffic below.
"That's when I went and put my arms around her," Barton told the AP. "I felt like if she looked down at that traffic one more time it might be it."
Once Barton had wrapped his arms around the woman from behind, he is seen coaxing her to climb back over the rail with his help, after which the two of them sit together on the concrete walkway.
Barton subsequently made small talk with the woman after she had climbed back over the rail, during which time he learned she was a student.
"While I was holding her, listening to their questions, I just prayed," the bus driver said. "Whatever was on her mind, it had her. It really, really had her."
A corrections officer who happened to be driving behind Barton's bus when he had stopped it emerged on the scene and waited with the woman until authorities arrived, allowing the driver to return to his bus where he received a standing ovation from his passengers.
Barton subsequently finished his route, wrote up a report about the incident and went home, the AP noted.
"Being the humble individual that Darnell is, he didn't write it in a way that was going to call attention to himself," said C. Douglas Hartmayer, spokesman for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. "It was: I did it, got back on my bus and continued. That speaks volumes about his demeanor and character."
"Things like this put what's important in perspective," Barton added in his interview with the AP. "You hug your kids a little tighter, kiss your wife a little bit longer. You're grateful. ... Things may not be perfect," he said, "but as we say, they're a little bit of all right."
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