The most wrenching stories always begin the same way: it was just a normal day.
Oct. 18 was just a normal day when Darnell Barton, a school bus driver in Buffalo, N.Y., was carrying a full load of high school students and approaching the Scajaquada Expressway overpass. There, he saw a woman on the opposite side of the rail, standing where no person ought to be, leaning out over the traffic below.
Barton stopped the bus and, according to the Buffalo News, tried to assess the truth of what his eyes were telling him.
“I didn’t think it was real with everything else going on around her," he said. "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 stepped out and began talking to the woman, who looked at him and didn't respond. Inside the bus, students were weeping. So Barton edged toward her and finally got close enough to reach out.
“She turned back to look at me and then back at the traffic and that’s when I kind of lunged and got my left arm around her body,” Barton said. “I asked her, ‘Do you want to come on this side of the guard rail now?’ and that was the first time she spoke to me and said, ‘Yeah.’ ”
They both sat down together on the sidewalk. The woman looked at Barton, who'd splashed on a little extra cologne that morning, and said, "You smell good." He sagged with relief, knowing that she had come back to reality.
Within a few minutes, emergency service personnel had arrived on the scene. Another bus came to take away the students. Barton received a standing ovation from his students and praise from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. And then he went right back to work to finish his route.