A Buffalo bus driver is being hailed as a hero after coming to the aid of a distraught woman who was teetering on the edge of a highway overpass, reports CBS News today. Darnell Barton, 37, was driving high school students home back on Oct. 18 when his heroic act was caught on the in-bus camera.
As Barton was driving along the Scajaquada Expressway, a busy highway with multiple overpasses just outside of Buffalo, N.Y., he noticed a woman standing on a bridge, outside of the protective guardrail barrier and looking down.
“It didn't seem real because of what was going on around, traffic and pedestrians were going by as normal,” Barton told CBS affiliate WIVB in Buffalo.
With students from McKinley High School in the back, Barton pulled his bus over, opened the door and yelled out to the woman.
“Ma'am, are you okay?” Barton reported as asking her.
When the woman didn’t answer, Barton knew it was going to be up to him to do something. The good-natured bus driver, known as “Big Country” to his friends and coworkers, approached the woman, managed to grab her one arm and then “bear-hugged” her, backing her off and back to safety.
“She was distraught, she was distant, she was really disconnected,” Barton said. “I grabbed her arm and put my arm around her and said ‘Do you want to come on this side of the guardrail?’ and that was actually the first time she spoke to me she said yes.”
A corrections officer and a woman who said she was a councilor then approached and made sure the unnamed woman was safe. Barton got back in his bus and finished his route, but believes his being there at that moment was not coincidence.
“It was meant to be,” Barton said. “I was supposed to be there for her at that moment and I was. I wanted to convey that whatever it was, I'm going to help you through and it's not as serious as jumping onto [Route] 198.”
When Barton got back to the station, his act of bravery preceded him, and he was hailed with a much-deserved ovation and applause.
“I feel like I did what I was supposed to do at the time,” Barton said. “I'm a football guy so when you sit the bench and the coach calls your number, you gotta go in there make a play, do what the play calls for, and I think that's what I did.”