MTS bus driver honored for coming to aid of blind woman

SAN DIEGO - A San Diego Metropolitan Transit System bus operator who stopped his bus and rushed to aid a blind woman who inadvertently wandered into a four-lane roadway was the recipient of the agency's Distinguished Service Award, it was announced Friday.

Vernie Ellison, a 25-year MTS employee, was honored by the MTS Board of Directors Thursday, transit officials said.

"Safety is something we take very seriously at MTS, and that includes the safety of pedestrians in our community," MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski said.  "Because of Vernie's quick thinking and commitment to the safety of his passengers and pedestrians, he prevented a simple mistake from turning into a tragedy. We are proud to have exemplary employees like Vernie who are willing to go the extra mile to help people in need."

Ellison spotted the blind woman walking on Clairemont Drive while driving his route Nov. 7, according to MTS. He stopped the bus in a position that would protect her from oncoming traffic, secured the vehicle then ran to help her get to the sidewalk.

She told him she had unknowingly ended up in the street after maneuvering around a car that was stopped in a driveway, blocking the sidewalk, according to MTS.

Ellison did not tell anyone about the incident after returning to the bus maintenance facility in Kearny Mesa after his shift, but a passerby called the MTS customer service line and alerted the agency to his good deed, MTS officials said.

The rescue also was caught on the vehicle's surveillance camera.

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