You would perhaps assume the everyday routine of a bus driver is pretty mundane. But Tim Watson had an experience that derailed his entire working life. It happened after two unfamiliar passengers — one a man in his 20s, the other a young boy — hopped on his bus. Watson quickly spotted something about the child that didn't feel right. He had a gut feeling that told him this would be a workday he — nor the two passengers — would ever forget.
The wheels on the bus
Before that day, you see, Northern California resident Watson was your typical public bus driver.
But in the end, he proved to be much more heroic than his job title implied.
Tim had been driving this route — which covers over 15 miles between the Great Mall in Milpitas, California, to the Fremont Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station — for about five months.
And it seemed he was just a friendly guy with an ordinary job, expecting nothing more than to drive people where they needed to go.
A man and a child
But, on what had started as just another day on the job, Tim was working his scheduled bus route when a young man carried a child onto the bus. Tim had never seen them before, but he thought nothing of it...
until after the two sat down.
In fact, Tim didn't give the two strangers another thought for at least 15 minutes. There had been no real red flags to begin with, after all.
Tim had even had a relatively normal conversation with the older man — and how he treated the kid didn't seem out of the ordinary at first.
A bad feeling
“He asked me what time the bus was leaving,” Tim later told The Mercury News. “I told him it leaves at 11:13 a.m.”
Tim described the young man as calm, and even though the child was crying, Tim didn't initially feel that anything was off about this situation.
The next interaction Tim had with the man was when the guy tried to pay $2 for a $4 fare. But the man showed Tim a transit card that proved he could pay the reduced rate.
The man and the boy then sat near the back of the bus — and Tim let them drift from his mind.
But after 15 minutes or so of Tim probably not thinking much at all, a beeping sound went off inside his cab. “It was a ‘beep, beep’ sound… like, ‘You’ve got mail,’” Tim said.
And while he could have waited to investigate the noise, something told him to check it out right away.
The beep had sounded because Tim had received a text message. The alert had been sent from the transit agency’s operation headquarters and had gone directly to a tablet device inside Tim’s cab.
And it was this message that changed Tim's day.
Yet it was a good job Tim did decide to check the message. It was an alert that had been sent out to every Valley Transportation Authority driver.
It told them that they needed to be on the lookout for two particular people. And it hit Tim like a ton of bricks.
A news report
The message revealed that a potential kidnapping had occurred earlier that day at the Milpitas Library. The message further described the two people involved.
The first was a 3-year-old boy. And the second — the suspect — was a man, roughly 25 years of age, wearing a black hoodie and jeans. And that made Tim think about his passengers.
See, Tim Watson is a father of two; his kids were 17 and 21 years old at the time. And while he didn't want to assume anything too soon, his paternal instincts were kicking in.
He felt that he needed to do something about this child if he truly was who the police were searching for.
Tim seemingly concluded that the only way for him to be more sure of his intuition was to get a better look at the crying boy.
But how could he accomplish this investigation while driving a bus?
“The child was described as a 3-year-old boy with a dark blue shirt, light blue plaid shorts, and red Crocs,” Tim told The Mercury News.
So Tim knew what he was looking for — and that he had to act quickly.
Tim then pulled off the freeway, without raising an alarm, and parked the bus in a VTA space on Mission Blvd. He announced to his passengers that a previous rider had left behind a green backpack.
“It was just something I came up with in a hot second,” Tim said. But the lie gave him an opportunity to stop and "check" the bus.
Those shoes look familiar
And while Tim scanned the bus — and passengers cooperatively checked under their seats for the nonexistent backpack — he got a close look at the little boy.
Astonishingly, the boy was wearing the same outfit as described in the message alert — including the pair of unmistakable red Crocs.
As the sun sets
“The red shoes in my mind were a big warning flag,” Tim later revealed. So instead of going back to his seat, Tim got off the bus and used a cell phone to get in touch with the VTA dispatch.
He told them who he thought his passengers were.
What to do
“[Dispatch] told me to continue on my route, that they would notify police,” Tim said. “They told me to drive slowly.”
And that is exactly what Tim did — even though he didn't know with 100 percent certainty that he had the alleged kidnapper on his bus. Was he doing the right thing?
“I brought the bus speed under 35 mph,” Tim said. The passengers seemingly didn't notice — and eventually cruisers from the Fremont Police Department appeared behind the bus.
The vehicles had their lights flashing, but there was no way the passengers could see them. It was crunch time.
Tim stopped the bus at its destination — the BART station — and watched as police officers cautiously approached from behind.
Tim then opened the bus' doors and waited as the police prepared for the man and boy's departure.
Three police officers subdued the alleged kidnapper, and together they pried the poor boy from his arms. “He wasn’t yelling, he was very mellow,” Tim said of the suspect.
The man — 23-year-old Alfonso Edington — was arrested and taken away. The boy was unharmed.
A local hero
The boy's parents were, of course, tremendously relieved that their son was saved. But many people said it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Tim.
The boy's family and the police officers were beyond grateful for his act of bravery. Tim then became a near-celebrity — something he hadn't bargained for.
Reacting in the moment
Tim was interviewed by TV stations, chronicled by nearly every news site under the sun, and asked to throw the first pitch at a San Jose Giants minor league baseball game! And while likely touched by all the attention and praise, Tim maintained he isn't a hero.
He “just responded to the situation," and while it goes largely unacknowledged, responding to crises can be a fairly common part of a worker's job.
That gut feeling
Just take construction worker Colin Blevin. He never considered himself a hero, he was just a guy that trusted his gut and instincts when something felt wrong.
And on a hot summer day, his senses were put to the test the second he arrived at work early one morning. The voice in his head made it clear: he was witnessing a crime in progress, and he needed to act fast.
July 17 started out like any normal day for a construction worker named Colin Blevin from Santa Clara, California. He downed a hardy breakfast and arrived at his job at Ciarra Construction promptly at 7 a.m.
But as soon he arrived, suspicion struck...
Raymond Randy Gutierrez
There, blocking the entrance to the construction firm's lot with his car, was a man he'd later come to learn was named Raymond Randy Gutierrez. Colin knew all of the employees at the company, and this man wasn't one of them.
He also was behaving oddly.
Mutter mutter mutter
Colin noticed that the man had an awkward gait and was muttering to himself. Something about this guy wasn't right, Colin could feel it.
It seemed like he was under the influence of drugs, but Colin slowly approached him anyway.
Move your Honda, bro!
Colin didn't plan on confronting Raymond. He just needed him to move his car, a 1992 white Honda Accord, so he could get into the lot.
But even before saying anything, Colin noticed something unusual about the man's vehicle...
Baby on board
The back door of the Accord was cracked open, and inside was a baby (pictured here)! Alarm bells immediately went off in Colin's head.
Even though he didn't know Raymond, he had a strong inkling the baby didn't belong to him. And if it was Raymond's baby, was he in good enough shape to take care of the tyke?
Raymond's oddest act
Raymond was jittery and disheveled, but the baby looked well cared for.
Something about this whole situation wasn't sitting right with Colin, and as soon as the man moved the car, he did something that left the construction worker in shock...
To Colin's complete disbelief, the man moved his car, immediately got out of it, and he started breaking into another car, right in front of Colin!
As Colin was watching in awe, a woman named Mamas Ramirez approached him and said something horrifying...
An unwanted visitor
She told Colin the drug-addled man knocked on her RV door not long before Colin arrived at work and tried to pawn the child off on her!
For a number of reasons, this made Colin sick.
Colin had a daughter of his own, and he knew that this baby's family was probably worried sick.
Colin approached Raymond and demanded answers.
"Is this your baby?" Colin forcefully asked. Raymond said no, and told Colin the person who let him borrow the vehicle accidentally left the child in the backseat.
Colin knew Raymond was lying, but what actually happened?
Colin grabbed the baby out of the back seat and told Raymond he was calling the police. Raymond was guilty of several crimes, so it wasn't surprising when he jumped back in the white Accord and fled.
But, it wouldn't be long before Raymond was nabbed and the truth came out.
Police tracked Raymond down and arrested him. As it turned out, Raymond was a 43-year-old homeless man who had a reputation around the area for causing trouble.
How exactly did he get his hands on a child in the first place?
Apparently, the rightful owner of the Honda Accord left his car running for mere minutes right outside his home when Raymond struck.
He jumped in the car and drove off, taking the innocent child along for the ride.
When Soledad police finally spoke to Colin about the situation, they told him an AMBER Alert had been out for the child for several hours before Colin found him.
Officers were looking out
Colin was stunned; he had no idea that the situation was already on the officers' radar!
But believe it or not, that wasn't even the craziest part of the whole incident...
Taking a PTO day
That morning, Colin was suffering from a sore hip, and he almost didn't go into work so he could rest.
However, he had too much to do, and for that reason alone, he was able to save a life.
Missing children's citizen award
After a thorough medical checkup, the eight-month-old infant was returned to his family. The Department of Justice awarded Colin the Missing Children's Citizen Award for his intuition and quick thinking.
But Colin didn't see it as anything particularly heroic...He just hoped others would intervene if they noticed something that seemed not quite right.