RIVERSIDE, Calif. — School bus driver and trainer Ricardo Ramos was named the Southern California School Bus Driver of the Year by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for his actions to save two students who were caught in floodwaters last summer.
As previously reported, Ramos, a Student Transportation of America driver and trainer, had brought his bus to a stop the afternoon of Aug. 29. He got out to cross two elementary students, siblings Marianna Vejar-Morfin and Jose Vejar-Morfin, with his hand-held stop sign.
As the siblings 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 Jose floating away down the street, gasping for air as his head was slipping under the water. The driver acted quickly, dragging him out of the water, and Ramos then went to get Marianna, who also was being swept away.
SBF later learned from Jacqueline Paul, Riverside Unified School District’s supervisor of strategic communications, that the students’ grandmother, Anjelita Baldovinos, had been picking up Marianna and Jose from their bus stop because their mother had passed away in June.
At a ceremony on Wednesday, CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow told Ramos, “You acted with courage and immediate response, and you did something absolutely heroic.”
Riverside CHP Area Commander Capt. Amanda Snowden added, “Mr. Ramos displayed exceptional bravery beyond the call of duty.”
Riverside Unified School District Interim Superintendent Mike Fine, Highland Elementary School Principal Donna Dorsey, as well as Marianna and Jose attended the ceremony to congratulate Ramos.
For his part, Ramos was humble when accepting the Southern California School Bus Driver of the Year award, saying, “I really didn’t expect any of this. I was just in the right place at the right moment.”