Denise Wilson saw a small figure emerge from the shadows, and it immediately triggered alarm bells. A camera recorded everything that happened next, and once it was shared online, the reaction was remarkable. People were calling her a hero.
Wilson is a bus driver from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with an amazing story. Strangers online have hailed her as a hero for something remarkable that she did during one of her night shifts. It all started on a cold evening at the beginning of 2017.
It was January, and the weather was bitter. In fact, temperatures were in the region of only 26 °F – a night that would have been best spent inside a warm and cosy house. But not everyone was tucked up safely that night.
As the night shift went on, Wilson decided to take a break at around midnight. But while she was stopped something bizarre happened. Wilson witnessed something that night that she never expected to see, and she knew that she had to act fast.
Wilson first noticed a figure running up Center Street, but it wasn’t the silhouette of an adult. Rather, the bus driver realized that she was looking at a child. Given that it was past midnight, Wilson couldn’t understand why a kid would be out alone and in the cold.
“Am I really seeing what I’m seeing?” Wilson thought to herself. She noticed too that the child was wearing pajamas; only a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and no shoes. Something about the situation didn’t seem right at all. Then, Wilson heard the kid crying.
That’s when the bus driver knew that she had to help the little boy. Wilson jumped off the bus to go and speak to the child. First, she asked where his mom and dad were, and what his name was, hoping to get some answers that could help her to safely return him home.
Unsurprisingly, the little boy was freezing cold. To stop him from shivering on the street, Wilson put her coat around him and lead him to a gas station. To start with, she bought him something to snack on and then another member of the public donated his sweater to the child.
After that, CCTV images from Wilson’s bus show her bringing the lost boy back on board, wrapped in the oversized clothes. She immediately closed the doors to the bus, most likely in order to keep the bitterly cold air out in an attempt to keep the boy warm.
The video shows the little boy finding a seat near the front of the bus, while Wilson resumes her position in the driver’s seat. She is heard asking the child if he is okay, before asking “Still a little cold?” After that, Wilson reaches behind her seat and grabs yet another sweater for him to wear.
By that point, Wilson knew that she wasn’t going back to work, so she officially ended her shift there. The police were on their way by now, so she thought it would be better to keep the boy company until officers arrived to deal with the unusual situation.
But the little boy, who turned out to be only five years old, was exhausted. “He ate his snack and fell asleep,” even before the police arrived, recalled Wilson. Once officers arrived they were able to investigate why the young child had ended up on the street.
It turned out that the young boy had simply “wandered away from home” that cold night, according to a statement released by Milwaukee County Transit System. Other reports say that a “miscommunication among family members led to the child going missing.”
Whatever happened, the main thing is that the boy was found safe and well, albeit a little cold. And all credit went to Wilson who first spotted him wandering the streets alone. Milwaukee County Transit System even praised the driver for her actions in an online statement.
Wilson, who had only been driving buses around Milwaukee for six months, was publicly praised by her employer for “making sure a scary situation didn’t go from bad to worse.” She kept a cool head, despite finding the scenario “shocking and a little frightening” herself.
People online were also quick to congratulate Wilson on her quick thinking. Underneath a Daily Mail story about the incident, someone wrote, “Thank you, Denise. A great portion of heaven awaits you.” While another said, “God bless that lady!”
At the same time, though, some people weren’t impressed with the young boy’s parents. “If you have a toddler, lock the doors and put a child lock around the handle. Why is it so hard?” somebody wrote. But others defended the family by pointing out that a five-year-old child would be capable of undoing it.
After police got to the bottom of the story, the boy’s family was not subjected to an investigation by child protection services, though. Thankfully, the unfortunate situation was resolved, and Wilson emerged as a total hero from it.
But Wilson doesn’t see it like that. “I’m a child of God, and a lot of times we try to do what’s right when we see something happening, and if we’re there to help and have the ability or means to do it, that’s what we’re supposed to do,” she said.
“So I don’t look at it as being a hero – just being there to help,” Wilson continued. But plenty of people would disagree. Let’s just hope that Wilson is working the night shift the next time a young child decides to wander away from home at night.