‘Forever grateful’: Mother meets ‘hero’ bus driver who helped save her son’s life

MILWAUKEE – When a young boy wandered off from a Milwaukee school and into a busy intersection on May 15, a quick-acting Milwaukee County Transit System bus driver was there to help.

On Friday, MCTS driver Cecelia Nation-Gardner met the young boy's mother for the first time.

Nation-Gardner and the boy's mom shared an emotional hug when they met. When she saw the boy wandering the street from her bus, Nation-Gardner recalls springing into action.

"I knew something was wrong because this child was running in the middle of the street," said Nation-Gardner. "That child could have been killed."

Nation-Gardner got the boy on the bus, radioed dispatch and waited for police to arrive. A short time later, the boy was reunited with his mother.

"I was so grateful for her," said Cassandra Garrett, boy's mother. "I'm speechless because if it wasn't for her he wouldn't even been here."

While grateful for the driver's quick action, Garrett is angry about how her child got in that situation in the first place.

"He had told me that he had wandered off the playground," Garrett said. "I was like, 'Are you serious?! Where were the teachers?'"

On Friday, however, Garrett said she just wanted to celebrate the driver's heroic actions.

"I will be forever grateful for her, to her, because she saved my baby," said Garrett.

A spokesman for Milwaukee Public Schools sent the following statement on the incident:

"Milwaukee Public Schools is grateful the student from Mary McLeod Bethune Academy was found and returned safely to school.

On May 15, 2019, a 6-year-old student stepped away from his class line at the end of recess, did not enter the building with his class, and remained on the playground. While other classes were on the playground, the child left the school grounds.

The student was discovered by an MCTS bus driver, Cecilia Nation-Gardner, who took the child onto her bus and called police. The police returned the student to school and his parent was immediately contacted.

MPS is working with Bethune Academy to review policies and procedures. The school and the student’s mother have been working closely to determine the sequence of events. A revised plan has already been put in place to recheck students at specified points during the school day."

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