Buffalo bus driver Darnell Barton got the opportunity to become a hero recently. It was around 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Barton, a bus driver for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, had just stopped at a bus stop to pick up 20 students from McKinley High School. Little did he know that his route was about to become a fateful opportunity to save someone’s life.
As Barton, 37, headed south on Elmwood Avenue, he saw an unthinkable sight on the Scajaquada Expressway overpass. At first the bus driver from Buffalo couldn’t believe his eyes. A woman was standing between the inner and outer guardrails looking down at the Scajaquada Expressway 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,” Barton said.
At that moment, Barton’s hero instinct kicked in.
“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.”
He stopped the bus, opened up the door and asked the woman if she needed help. She simply looked at him and didn’t answer. She returned her view back to the expressway below.
Barton said he heard one of the students crying and saying, “”I don’t want to see someone die.” But Barton knew he had to try and help the woman. After calling the Metro Bus dispatcher and reporting the event, he did what no else seemed interested in doing. Barton walked off of his bus and talked the potential jumper back off the railing.
At that point others finally stopped and came to see what was happening. Among those who came to help were a correctional officer and a counselor. Later, Barton would say they were a great help. Eventually, the police would show up and Barton, known as Big Country by his co-workers, stayed by the woman’s side the whole time.
There are a lot of hurting people in the world. By simply paying attention, Buffalo bus driver Darnell Barton was able to help one of those hurting people.