Bus driver Ricardo Martinez acted on instinct when he brought a lost infant to safety while tending to his special-needs passengers.
Driver saves lost infant’s life
Anaheim City School District
Nothing could have prepared bus driver Ricardo Martinez for the unique emergency situation he faced en route last October. However, thanks to his strong instincts and moral code, Martinez was able to bring a lost infant to safety.
As Martinez was covering a special-needs trip for the Anaheim City School District on Oct. 14, he noticed cars swerving around something in the middle of the road. He drove a bit closer only to find it was a 15-month-old baby boy in a T-shirt and diaper. In a strange coincidence, he was playing with a toy school bus.
“A lot of things were going through my head,” Martinez recalls. “I knew I had to save the baby, and I wondered why the other cars hadn’t stopped when they saw him.”
Quick thinking led Martinez to first secure his bus so he could retrieve the baby, taking him out of harm’s way. He brought the infant onto the bus and radioed dispatch, who then notified the Anaheim Police Department.
Before a second bus came to take the other children home, Ricardo explained to the frantic students in both Spanish and English what was going on. He managed to restore order on the bus and effectively communicate the importance of staying calm, as not to scare the baby. Once the students understood, some even extended a helping hand, according to Martinez.
“In all my experience, we’ve never had something like this happen,” says Rick Lewis, director of transportation for the district. “I was so impressed with the way Ricardo was able to coax the young boy on board with really no problem, plus take control of the special-needs kids at the same time.”
For the hour and a half that Anaheim police officers canvassed the neighborhood in search of the infant’s parents, Martinez tended to the baby without question. According to Lewis, the baby clung onto Martinez and looked comforted. “By the end, he didn’t want to let go.”
On Oct. 24, the Anaheim Board of Education and the transportation department presented Martinez with a certificate of special recognition.
“He did an outstanding job,” Lewis says. “Without him there doing what he did, who knows what would have happened to the 15-month-old boy. Ricardo went above and beyond.”
— BRITTNI RUBIN