RIVERSIDE, Calif. — When a sudden deluge swept away two children during a rainstorm here on Thursday, Ricardo Ramos quickly sprang into action and pulled both of them to safety.
Ramos, a Student Transportation of America (STA) driver and trainer, had brought his bus to a stop around 3 p.m. Thursday. He got out to cross two elementary students with his hand-held stop sign (as California school bus drivers are required to do).
As the young boy and girl continued crossing, holding their grandmother's hands, a surge of floodwater came down the street. The grandmother reportedly slipped and fell on the wet pavement, losing her grip on the children's hands.
Ramos said he saw the boy floating away down the street, gasping for air as his head was slipping under the water. The driver acted quickly.
“I just dropped my stop sign, and I went and dragged him out,” Ramos said.
He then went to get the little girl, who also was being swept away.
Ramos said he never thought about what to do — it was an automatic response.
“I didn’t care about anything else,” Ramos said. "I was drenched in water, but if I didn’t step in, nobody would have. It just happened so fast.”
Since the incident, accolades have been pouring in for Ramos from fellow workers and parents. Christina Gilbert, whose 5-year-old son rides Ramos' bus, saw the entire incident and said that she couldn’t believe the heroism that the driver demonstrated. She noted that Ramos' actions bolstered her confidence in having her 5-year-old ride the bus.
“I feel so comfortable having my son driven by him,” Gilbert said.
Ramos, 24, has been with STA for two years. He was recently promoted to become a designated behind-the-wheel trainer.
“Ricardo is a prime example of what’s good about bus drivers,” said Marta Nelson, transportation manager for Riverside Unified School District.
STA Operations Manager Annie Van Scyoc concurred.
“Of all people, he would be the person to save those children,” Van Scyoc said. “He really cares.”
The Riverside Board of Education will recognize Ramos at its meeting on Tuesday. But Ramos said that he already got the most meaningful thanks of all, from a little girl who boarded his bus Friday morning.
“She said, ‘Bus driver. Bus driver. Do you remember yesterday — when you saved me?'”
To watch Ramos recount the incident in a Press-Enterprise video, go here.