The world continues to turn because unnoticed and unappreciated people do unglamorous yet essential jobs day after day. Pipefitters make sure sewers continue to drain. Electricians keep the lights on. Lawn crews keep the neighborhood from turning into a jungle.
Then there are crossing guards. We tend to notice them when we’re running late for work and they stop our cars to let some students pass, pushing us that much closer to being late.
Honestly, we should appreciate them every day and then some. KSL-TV wasn’t wrong when it called the position “the most dangerous job in a school.”
Not only do they have to protect young children from vehicular risks, they often face those risks themselves. That’s exactly what happened to an 82-year-old crossing guard in Peshtigo, Wisconsin.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gail Bantes had worked as a bus driver in this small northeastern Wisconsin town for 43 years before becoming a crossing guard.
She understood how traffic patterns worked and how to safeguard young students. So when she saw an SUV speeding toward a crosswalk on Feb. 15, she knew something was wrong.
Two children were in the middle of the crosswalk as the vehicle approached and did not slow. So Bantes did the only thing she could: She shoved the kids out of way.
Then the SUV struck her instead.
Peshtigo Police Chief Rick Badgley told WBAY-TV, “I was just coming in with another officer, and we got a call that a crossing guard was struck while crossing kids at what is called Business 41 or French Street.”
The driver of the SUV said that the sun had temporarily blinded her, preventing her from seeing the people in the crosswalk.
The driver was still cited by police. However, authorities had nothing but praise for Bantes.
“I give her a lot of credit, a lot of strength,” Badgley said. “She’s very devoted to what she does. She always has been, and she always will be.”
Bantes is currently recovering in the hospital.
Peshtigo School District superintendent Patrick Rau hopes that Bantes’ pain will serve as a warning to drivers everywhere.
“Take a step back and really think about, what if it was their own child that was walking to school?” Rau said.
“What if it was themselves crossing? To have some of that empathy and put themselves in that other role that me rushing to work or rushing to run errands.
“Yes, you might be a few minutes late. But at the end of the day, if everybody stays safe, I think everyone will understand.”
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