It was a scenario that had all the elements that precede a tragedy: a small child with special needs, lost and alone in the midst of a blizzard on a bitterly cold morning. But thanks to the quick thinking and sharp eyes of a rookie Metro Transit bus driver, this story has a happy ending.
“It was about 6:40 when I drove past this boy walking in the same direction I was driving. He was probably in kindergarten or first grade, wearing a backpack and without an adult. I thought, hmmm,” recalled driver Ambrose Younge.
Shortly after, Younge turned around at the Theodore Wirth Trailhead to start the second part of his route and spotted the boy standing in the middle of the road. “That’s when I sensed something was wrong. I stopped and coaxed him to get into my bus,” said Younge.
The rescue happened on February 22, one of the snowiest mornings of this very snowy winter, when the one-day snowfall in Minneapolis totaled around 13 inches; the temperature that morning was 12 above but the wind chill was a dangerous -4.
Once Younge got the child onboard and out of the elements; he talked to him, gently and reassuringly, even though he described the boy as non-responsive. “He did exhibit signs of anxiety; he was rocking back and forth. I said, ‘I got ya,’” said Younge.
Younge contacted the Transit Control Center (TCC) to alert them to the situation and provided them with a detailed description of the boy shivering on his bus. The TCC supervisor checked with police and learned of a report of a missing child with autism on the North Side.
Minneapolis Police and Metro Transit police officers worked together to retrieve the child and return him to his worried family. The little boy had wandered about 15 blocks by the time Younge encountered him.
Bus operators often are relied upon to be helpful eyes and ears in the community. “Our drivers are trained to be observationally aware. They learn to see what’s normal so they can see when something is out of place,” said John Komarek, MTC spokesman.
“Ambrose saw something with his own two eyes and noticed something was off. That’s the kind of employee we look for, a person who cares and is there to help.”
This is the first winter that Younge, 45, has been behind the wheel of a Metro Transit bus. A former Marine and then a banker, Younge began his career as a driver last fall after weeks of rigorous preparation. “Metro Transit does a really good job in their training, to get us to learn the routes and be behind the wheel to get familiar with the bus,” he said. “I’ve had a really good support system, great mentorship, and coaching. That helped me become confident.”
But perhaps nothing prepared him more for his fateful encounter with that little boy than fatherhood. Younge has two sons of his own, ages 12 and 14. “I’m a dad and I just did what any dad would do,” he said. “I’m so glad I was there to help and to bring him to safety.”
Thank you for helping this little.
love this story as I have nieces and nephews who’s autistic themselves. shout out to Ambrose Younge
Thank you for this loving wonderful story of the Metro bus driver Mr Younge!
I am so grateful to Mr. Younge for helping a lost boy on a freezing cold night. Wow, I am so very impressed. Thank you Mr. Younge.