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TTC drivers praised for on-job heroics

Armed felon tackled, 2 rescued from burning

By Joseph Hall
Toronto Star Transportation Reporter

Two bus drivers were honoured as heroes by the TTC yesterday for performing above and beyond the call of duty while on the job.

Robert Walters, a burly former high school football player, was cited by TTC chair Howard Moscoe for tackling an armed robber as he fled police on Dec. 2.

Walters was on his bus at Pine Valley Rd. and Steeles Ave. when he heard sirens “and then this truck came around the corner and just flipped right over,” he recalled yesterday.

“Then I saw this guy crawling out and he started running away and I thought ‘Why are you running away?’ “

As police kept a cautious distance, the fleeing man ran in front of Walters’ bus and the 19-year TTC veteran took action.

“I said, ‘Hey, you’re not getting away with just wrecking that car,’ so I jumped off my bus and he was running one way and I was running the other and I just tackled him,” the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Walters said.

“My high school coach would have been pretty proud of the tackle I made.”

With Walters holding the man down, police approached cautiously and took him into custody. The TTC driver hopped back on his bus and drove calmly away.

It was only later, when police informed him the man he’d tackled had stolen two vehicles at gunpoint that day, that Walters realized why police had been so cautious during their chase.

“But I don’t think I’m a hero. I think someone who runs into a blazing building or something like that is a hero,” he said.

By that definition, fellow driver James McCarthy is just that.

McCarthy, who has been with the commission two years, stopped his Wheel-Trans bus Nov. 28 along Ravenrock Rd. when he saw smoke billowing out of a nearby house.

Alerting his dispatcher to call firefighters, McCarthy went to the house and asked a family who had just fled the building if there was anyone left inside.

Driver stopped when he saw smoke billowing out of house

When told a woman and her 10-year-old daughter were living in a basement apartment and had not yet emerged, the driver ran to their door, kicked it in and brought the pair out.

“I realized I had to do something quickly,” McCarthy says.

“By the time I came outside again, there were cars about to blow up and the flames were 30 feet in the air.”