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Leon County bus driver honored with award after helping save a child’s life

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 12:32 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County Schools bus driver Naesha Williams-Mathis was honored Monday morning by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at the Missing Children’s Day Award ceremony. She was named Florida Bus Operator of the Year by the department for her service to the community, which included her role in helping save a young girl’s life.

According to LCS, Mrs. Williams-Mathis was completing her usual route picking up the kids of Griffin Middle School last October when she encountered the toddler. The small child was barefoot and diaper-clad, holding a bottle of milk and a pacifier while standing in the middle of the road. She had wandered out of her grandparent’s home, and was now lost and in the middle of dangerous traffic, LCS’ Facebook post says.

Naesha, a mother of two children and bus driver of 11 years with a background in childcare, quickly sprang into action. She safely stopped her vehicle, turned on the bus lights, extended the STOP arm and opened the bus doors. She took the child’s hand, led her to an empty front seat, and alerted the bus compound dispatch, who then contacted police.

Naesha sang songs and spoke softly to the child while they waited. “I’ve been working with children all my life. They are my passion. I wanted to make her feel comfortable and to let her know that she was safe,” said Naesha.

Thankfully, law enforcement arrived quickly and the child’s grandmother came out from their home nearby, searching for the girl. She was reunited with her family, who thanked Naesha profusely and called her a hero, according to LCS.

“What a difference timing can make. I believe that everything happens for a reason,” said Naesha. “What if I hadn’t been there? God put me in her path today.”

After receiving multiple nominations from across the county, FDLE selected Mrs. Williams-Mathis as Bus Operator of the Year for the 2021-2021 school year.

“Just as I’ve been helped in my life, it was my turn to be a little girl’s angel today,” said Naesha. “It’s not every day that you can say, ‘I helped save a child.’”

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