Irina Ivic has been a Milwaukee County Transit System bus driver for more than five years. She knows to keep her eyes peeled for pedestrians as she makes her route.
Last month, however, even she was surprised at the sight she saw.
Ivic immediately stopped the bus on December 22 when, as she was driving across an overpass on Milwaukee’s south side, she saw a young girl walking by herself on the sidewalk, according to reporting from WISN. The child, who was under a year old, was unattended, crying as she walked up and down the street.
Ivic parked her bus and ran out to grab the child, who was outside on a cold Wisconsin day. She brought the girl inside her bus, holding her as she sat in the driver’s seat, calling dispatch to report the incident.
Passengers on the bus also chipped in to help the child. One of them offered the girl her jacket to help keep her warm. The warmth from the jacket and Ivic holding her in her arms apparently comforted the girl immensely — by the time emergency medical services arrived to the scene, the child was fast asleep.
Ivic was commended this week for her quick thinking, reporting from Fox 6 in Milwaukee noted. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele adorned her with glowing praise as he recognized her during a public ceremony honoring Ivic’s actions, which were captured on cameras on the bus.
“She did a lot more than her job. She did the right thing,” said Abele. “I don’t take that kind of compassion for granted.”
After Ivic rescued the child three weeks ago, the little girl was returned to her father. He told news reporters that the mother had accidentally lost their child on the way home from church services. The mother reportedly has mental health issues.
Ivic, a Serbian immigrant who moved to Milwaukee 12 years ago, explained how frightened the child was when she first found her.
“[The] baby was so scared and cried, and [she] didn’t know what to do, where to go,” Ivic said.
She also said she would do the same thing again in a heartbeat.
“I have my children too. And if I find myself in the same situation again, I will, of course, help again. Always.”
Unfortunately, Ivic’s actions aren’t atypical for MCTS workers. This is the ninth incident in just the past few years in which a bus driver stopped to help a lost or abandoned child on their route.