Opinion

Brave FW bus driver blocks boy's bullets | Nandell Palmer

I don’t know about you, but for the past few months, there seems to have been an Armageddon of sorts playing out across America: Sandy Hook, Boston bombing, Federal Way shootings, kidnapping victims in Cleveland, Ohio, and the list goes on.

Honestly, at times I ask, what next?

Whenever tragedies strike our communities and families, many of us are conditioned to think the worst. But the best elixir, I find, is for us to always harbor a heart of gratitude for the wonderful things that are taking place in our lives.

We shouldn’t be robbed of the joys of seeing our babies step out for the first time to their kindergarten classes. Let’s treasure Tyrone and Sandra’s graduation. Get excited about your daughter’s upcoming wedding. Say thank you for that job promotion and good medical report.

We should high-five the ardent support for one another and community. We ought to champion our local heroes who would risk life and limb for us without seeking any remuneration. The moment we do otherwise, we are giving credence to seeming distractions that atrophy our blessings.

I find that good will always outweigh bad any day. And given enough time, you too will see how many of those so-called terrible things can literally foster a stronger community and a more cohesive family.

The same place where that stinking pile of manure once stood, see now how it has transformed into a fertile garden, bearing fruits of love, hope, peace, industry, sustainability and fortitude.

When in doubt, just ask Federal Way resident and King County Metro bus driver Anthony Woods.

On a nice sunny afternoon, July 20, 2006, Woods was driving the #7 Rainier Beach bus at 3rd and Spring Street in Seattle when he heard a commotion: “He has a gun! He has a gun!”

The Goliath-sized driver immediately stopped the coach, set the emergency brake, and put on the four-way flashers. At the back of the bus, he came face to face with a mean 16-year-old youth, brandishing a loaded 9-mm pistol, bent on robbing a victim’s digital camera.

Call it bravery or whatever you may, but the thought of seeing multiple people killed inside the bus he commanded did not sit well with Woods. That’s when he sprang into action, temporarily tossing Metro’s rulebook out the window.

Woods tackled the gun-toting thief, bear-hugging him off the bus, then pinned him to the ground until police arrived. The suspect was later handcuffed and taken into custody. He eventually served time in a juvenile center, coupled with house arrest.

On April 18, 2013, Woods was driving the #74 bus through the tunnel downtown when a clean-cut young man asked, “Do you remember me?”

Woods looked the man up and down but could not identify him. He gave up, and that’s when Namon Wells-Howard, now 22 years old, declared his identity and showered the driver with gratitude.

“Thank you, man, for saving my life and giving me back my future,” the repentant Wells-Howard said.

Woods broke down around his steering wheel and wept like a baby to see the wonderful transformation in the young man’s life. Passengers learned about the incident and were grateful to witness this happy ending. Some soon joined in that lachrymal moment with the genial driver.

These days you will find Wells-Howard deeply committed to his rigorous training in computer skills, marketing, and writing business plans and finance reports, at Year Up — a tertiary institution in Seattle.

He’s currently working on getting his non-profit organization up and running, targeting youth ages 12 to 22 that have a hankering to know more about the music industry: recording, video editing, producing, PR, just to name a few. This is his way of giving back, he said.

It’s been nearly seven years since that incident, but wouldn’t it be great if our own Federal Way City Council were to bestow a citation for Woods’ exemplary service at one of their monthly meetings? That would go far in encouraging the heart for valor. There’s no statute of limitation on that. Woods and his wife, Pamela, have lived in Federal Way for the past 12 years.

Ironically, when the story first broke in 2006, Woods was reprimanded by Metro gatekeepers. Instead of getting hurrahs, a critical letter was placed inside his personnel file. They argued that Woods violated company protocol when he left his post around the steering wheel to foil the robbery.

The public doled out tons of positive comments on the driver’s selflessness, which later forced Metro to revoke the letter inside his file. He has since received several awards, including one from former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr at their annual banquet.

Give me the bloom and plume of a Woods-Wells-Howard story any day over the uber-sensationalized doom and gloom of gangland-style massacres, rapes and kidnappings. It’s still a fantastic life!

 

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