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Bus driver prevents woman from jumping off overpass, teaching student riders a lesson in compassion
Metro bus driver Darnell Barton says he "didn't think it was real" when he saw a young woman preparing to jump from an overpass on Elmwood Avenue earlier this month.
Bus driver Darnell Barton had just picked up 20 McKinley High School students eager to get home on a recent Friday afternoon.
They had to wait a little longer than usual while Barton saved a woman's life and taught them an unexpected lesson in human compassion.
As the 37-year-old driver pulled away from the school bus stop at about 3:50 p.m. on Oct. 18, heading southbound on Elmwood Avenue, he saw a disturbing sight on the Scajaquada Expressway overpass. A woman was on the opposite side of the railing leaning out over the traffic below.
"I didn't think it was real with everything else going on around her. 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," said Barton, who instinctively stopped his bus and opened the doors.
"Do you need help?" he asked.
She looked at him and then back at the traffic on the expressway from her precarious perch on the west side of the overpass.
Barton called the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's Metro Bus dispatcher and reported what was happening.
But the reality of the situation struck him when he heard one of the students weeping and saying, "I don't want to see someone die."
Cautiously, Barton stepped from the bus. He made his move when he was within a few steps of the woman.
"She turned back to look at me and then back at the traffic and that's when I kind of lunged and got my left arm around her body," Barton said. "I asked her, 'Do you want to come on this side of the guard rail now?' and that was the first time she spoke to me and said, 'Yeah.' "
Barton said he helped her over the railing and suggested they have a seat.