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Rescuing Children: Part of a Bus Operator's Daily Work

Bus operators understand that being alert to situations is part of their job. These drivers from Cincinnati and Riverside, CA, went the extra mile to look after children in trouble.

Craig Whitehead, a 27-year operator with Cincinnati Metro, received the CEO S.T.A.R. (Service That Attracts Recognition) Award for coming to the aid of a child while driving his route. When he saw a small child with two dogs follow one of the dogs into the street—and oncoming traffic—he immediately stopped the bus, brought the child on board and called for help.

“When I saw what was happening, I thought, I’ve got to get her some help,” said Whitehead. “I have grandchildren and I just couldn’t imagine what could have happened. It was in the middle of rush hour traffic. It was quite scary.”

The CEO S.T.A.R. Award is presented by, and at the sole discretion of, Cincinnati Metro Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Dwight A. Ferrell to acknowledge employees’ exemplary service to the agency and the community.

Ida Castillo, who drives for the River­side Transit Agency (RTA), looked after a 12-year-old girl who told Castillo when she boarded that she needed a lift somewhere far away, soon admitting that she had run away from home.

“Poor thing,” Castillo said. “I’m a mother and grandmother and I didn’t like the idea of her wandering around out there in the dark all alone. I was reassuring to her and offered her water and food out of my own lunch pail. All I could think about was keeping this girl safe.” Castillo kept the girl with her on the bus until police could arrive and reunite her with her family.

RTA Chairman of the Board Art Welch credited Castillo’s “customer service, vigilance and attention to detail” as part of “a team effort that resulted in a very positive outcome.”

The agency has partnered since 1997 with Riverside’s nonprofit Operation SafeHouse, which helps runaway and homeless children. Each of RTA’s fixed-route vehicles displays a yellow “Safe Place” sign that enables children to get free transportation to the shelter without question. 

Cincinnati Metro bus operator Craig Whitehead, second from right, accepted the CEO S.T.A.R. Award from CEO & General Manager Dwight A. Ferrell, right, for rescuing a child from oncoming traffic. At left are SORTA Board Chair Kreg Keesee, left, and ATU 627 President Troy Miller.
RTA operator Ida Castillo looked after a runaway 12-year-old girl on her bus until police arrived to reunite the girl with her family.

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