Saturday, February 24, 2007

Heroic Bus Driver Leaps off Bus to Save Girl

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A city bus driver is lauded as a hero after he leapt off his bus and snatched a 3-year-old girl from traffic. The bus security cameras show the girl getting off the bus with a cheery "Bye!" and walking straight into traffic on a busy street. Chris Leslie, 38, is pictured streaking out the door after her.

One view from the bus camera shows a car making a rapid stop directly in front of Leslie and the girl last week.

"As I grabbed her, I looked as I pulled her back and luckily the car in the next lane, a pickup, had stopped," he said. "It was probably the first time in my life I was in the right place at the right time."

The girl's mother was busy in the bus with another child in a stroller and the toddler didn't heed a command to wait. Leslie said the mother and daughter were still hugging at the bus stop when he pulled away.

Leslie's wife, Cara, said she knew something had happened when her husband returned home from work that night. She said he immediately grabbed their 2-year-old daughter, Hannah, and gave her a long hug.

"He was really scared by it all," she said. "It's amazing how quick something like this can happen."

Members of the board of City Utilities, which runs the buses, discussed Leslie's heroics at their board meeting Thursday.

"It's pretty special," said general manager John Twitty. "He put his own life on the line."

Leslie, an eight-year CU veteran, earned the utility's Driver of the Year award last year. His boss, transit manager Carol Cruise, said the utility's rules won't allow him to win it two years in a row.

"But there's no reason he couldn't win it the year after that."

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