It was a normal day, driving his route along the Scajaquada Expressway for Buffalo bus driver Darnell Barton. Traffic was moving along its usual pace on a recent Friday, but as he crossed a bridge, he noticed a woman standing on the wrong side of the guardrail on a bridge.
“It didn’t seem real because what was going on around, traffic and pedestrians were going by as normal” Barton told CBS affiliate WIVB in Buffalo.
With a busload of passengers, Barton stopped in the middle of the bridge, opened his door and yelled out: “Ma’am, are you okay?”
The woman didn’t react, so Barton made an emergency call and unbuckled his seatbelt and exited his bus.
As he approached, she still didn’t react. When he was in arms-length, the man known as “Big Country” to his coworkers grabbed one of her arms, and then wrapped his other large arm around her.
“She was distraught, she was distant, she was really disconnected,” Barton said. “I grabbed her arm and put my arm around her and said ‘Do you want to come on this side of the guardrail?’, and that was actually the first time she spoke to me she said yes.”
Barton lifted the woman over the guardrail and then sat with her for a little while, talking. A corrections officer and another woman who said she was a counselor approached and took over so Barton could finish his route.
“It was meant to be,” Barton said. “I was supposed to be there for her at that moment and I was. I wanted to convey that whatever it was, I’m going to help you through and it’s not as serious as jumping onto the 198.”
Barton told WIVB he believes most of his coworkers would’ve done the same. His bus passengers, when he finally got back on board after the lengthy disruption in their commute, gave the former football player a round of applause.
“I feel like I did what I was supposed to do at the time,” Barton said. “I’m a football guy so when you sit the bench and the coach calls your number, you gotta go in there make a play, do what the play calls for, and I think that’s what I did.”