Feb. 11 was a typical morning for school bus driver Jim Letos, who was driving students to Palm Harbor Middle School when he spotted something a few feet away, on the side of U.S. 19.
“I just saw this child, not even 2 years old, just steps away from the road and couldn’t believe that nobody else had stopped,” Letos said. “He looked like he had been there a while.”
Letos pulled over and brought the toddler onto the bus; he refused to hand him over to his parents, who came out of a nearby motel room minutes later, until police arrived.
Today, the Pinellas County School Board recognized Letos, who has been driving school buses here for 19 years.
“I’ve watched the tape, and the kids were calm, the young boy was calm, and actually he didn’t want to get off the bus. He liked sitting behind the wheel and was having a great time,” said Michael Bessette, the school district’s associate superintendent of operational services.
“Letos served as a great role model to the students. Others drove right by. He didn’t.”
School board members also honored two school bus assistants for helping out during an accident that same day.
Emma Frazier-Redmond and Livondra Dandy helped an injured school bus driver and elderly woman after a car ran a red light and hit a school bus at the corner of 49th Street and 70th Avenue North in Pinellas Park. First, though, they made sure the students were safe.
“We always have to think what we need to do next, because sometimes accidents cause other accidents; but it was just amazing how calm all the students were,” Frazier-Redmond said. “Any other day it’s noisy, but the kids were great.