A Buffalo bus driver has become a hero after stopping a suicide in its tracks. Bus driver Darnell Barton had just picked up a group of high school students when he saw a woman on an overpass looking down upon the highway. She had made her way over the guardrail and Barton soon realized that she was intending to jump. He had previously worked as both a special police officer and a firefighter, jobs which had provided him with training in how to deal with a crisis situation such as the one he was facing.
At first, Barton was not even sure of what he was witnessing, because there were other people driving and bicycling by. It took him a minute to realize that the woman was indeed on the other side of the guard rail and intending to jump into the incoming traffic below. “I didn’t think it was real with everything else going on around her,” he explained, “Traffic was proceeding as normal and a couple of pedestrians walked right by her and a bicyclist rode by. I mean, they were inches from her.”
His previous training may be what ended up saving the woman’s life. Although Barton had been instructed to immediately call his superior if faced with an emergency such as someone threatening to commit suicide, his prior training kicked in, and he opened the doors of the bus. He quickly told his dispatcher to send emergency help, and then yelled out two times to the woman, asking her if she was o.k. He then got out of the bus and put his arms completely around the woman, enveloping her in a hug. He encouraged the woman to come with him, and he assisted her to safety on the other side of the guard rail.
After the dramatic rescue, they sat down together on the pavement and he began to speak with her, hoping to keep her engaged until emergency personnel arrived.
“It was meant to be. I was supposed to be there for her at that moment,” he said, “and I was. I wanted to convey that whatever it was, we’re going to help you through whatever it is, and it’s not as serious as jumping onto the 198,” he said, referring to the highway below. “I feel like I did what I was supposed to do at the time. I’m a football guy so when you sit the bench and the coach calls your number, you got to go in there make a play… and I think that’s what I did.”
Amazingly, a crisis counselor trained in dealing with issues such as suicide and a corrections officer happened to be close by, and they also assisted at the scene until an ambulance arrived. When Barton returned to the bus after the ordeal, his passengers greeted him with a standing ovation, loud shouts and cheers, even though they had been waiting for quite a while to resume their commute.
Bus driver Darnell Barton stopped a suicide in its tracks, but he’s “modest” and “humble” about his heroism, says his boss. Because of Barton’s demeanor and quick thinking, a woman’s life has been saved. Watch the event unfold in the video below.
By: Rebecca Savastio