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ATU Heroes Go Above and Beyond

Not every hero wears a cape. Some wear a bus operator’s uniform. That’s because our members are more than just transit workers. We are the eyes and ears of our communities. Sometimes our brothers and sisters go beyond the call of duty to help riders who are hurt, lost, in distress, or worse. Our members exemplify the true meaning of heroism. 

Our Local 1267-Fort Lauderdale, FL, member, Gwendolyn Whitfield is being praised for her quick actions after a gunman opened fire inside her bus, killing two people. Police are saying it was her calm demeanor and split-second decision that brought the gunman’s attack to a screeching halt. She immediately acted, swerving into oncoming traffic to reach the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. “I can tell you that the bus driver in this particular case, her quick actions, I am sure, saved lives,” said Fort Lauderdale Police Acting Chief Luis Alvarez. “She deserves to be applauded for her actions.”  

In New York, our Local 1342-Buffalo, NY, member is being lauded as a hero after helping locate a missing girl. “I’m out here as a driver trying to help people where they’re going,” said Local bus operator Rikki Lanier who has been on the job for two years. Two weeks ago, when a missing girl got onto his bus, he instantly knew something was wrong. “Because she was shaking a lot, so when I got to my last stop, I just let her remain on the bus,” said Lanier. Confiding in Lanier, the girl told him that she was a runaway. As he was about to stop at a terminal downtown to get her help, a call came over the radio with a missing person’s report matching the girl. That’s when the girl took off. Lanier immediately reported what happened. Within minutes Buffalo police located the girl who had signs of hypothermia and was taken to the hospital. Police are crediting Lanier for saving her life.

In Toronto, Local 113-Toronto, ON, sister Reanna Bourque  is being hailed as a hero after stopping her bus on a bridge to save a man’s life. After seeing a man who appeared to be distressed, she pulled her bus over, got out, and slowly approached the man looking over the bridge when he suddenly ran up on the ledge to jump. “I remember watching her slowly walking towards the guy as he kept looking over the bridge,” says an eyewitness. “And then the guy ran and jumped up on the ledge and was about to jump off of the bridge, and the driver grabbed him and pulled him to safety. She definitely saved his life and is a true hero. Otherwise, he would be dead.” 

We applaud our members for their extraordinary bravery in the face of extreme circumstances. Thank you for everything you do to keep our communities moving and safe.