Bus drivers get to see a lot of things during their daily drives. The roads and buildings become familiar until they can follow their routes with precision.
This intimate familiarity with a specific part of a city also means that bus drivers know pretty quickly when something is out of the ordinary.
That was especially true of both Cecilia Nation-Gardner and Cressida Neal on July 5, when both of them spotted something unusual during their morning drives on their respective routes in Milwaukee County.
Neal was first up when she spotted a young boy wandering along the sidewalk in the early hours, around 4:40 a.m. According to the Journal Sentinel, the boy was crying and barefoot.
He climbed up into the bus when Neal stopped and called to him, and when she saw how distraught he was she wrapped him up in a big hug.
She called the police, who came to pick up the frightened boy and take him home to his grandmother.
Neal told The Western Journal that if she had the chance, she’d do it again in a heartbeat.
“I love the kids they are our future,” she said. “It takes a village to raise a child and when we see a child stray it’s up to us adults to get them back in line.”
Nation-Gardner spotted a similar sight a little later, but this time the child was a young girl. She was also crying, clutching her blanket in one hand and a pair of flip-flops in the other as she wandered along the side of the road in her pajamas.
The Journal Sentinel said the girl told Nation-Gardner that she was out early on her own to “find her mom, who lives in another state.”
Unlike the boy’s case, however, the girl’s family was already on the alert and soon tracked her down at the bus and took her back home. Hopefully she’ll get to see her mom soon — but accompanied by adults.
Nation-Gardner has been in the limelight before for rescuing children. Her last dramatic rescue involved a 6-year-old boy with autism who was wandering around in an intersection.
She honked the bus horn and tried to get the other drivers to slow down and notice the boy, and soon jumped out of the driver’s seat to go after the child herself.
She yelled at the boy, but he didn’t seem to respond, heading back out into traffic, as seen in the video posted by the Milwaukee County Transit System. When she finally got him by the hand, she told him, “We’re going to call the police, OK? So we can get you home.”
Authorities discovered that the boy had somehow gotten away from his school and wandered off, and he was soon reunited with his family.
Thanks to these vigilant ladies, three children are off the streets. Something terrible could have happened to these little adventurers, but Nation-Gardner and Neal were their guardian angels.
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