Anyone else would call it an act of heroism. For OC Transpo bus driver Marino Verzeroli, it was just what he had to do.
On New Year’s Day, 2008, Verzeroli was driving his bus when he saw a three-year-old boy standing alone at the intersection of Meadowlands Drive and Merivale Road.
It was snowing, and -11 C out. When Verzeroli realized the child was not dressed appropriately for the weather, he stopped the bus immediately.
“I was concerned,” he said. “I took my jacket, put it on the boy and took him out of the cold.”
Verzeroli said nothing like that had happened to him before. But when he saw the boy, instinct took over.
He contacted OC Transpo transit control and Ottawa police took the boy to hospital as a precaution.
Thanks to Verzeroli’s quick thinking, the boy was unhurt and was reunited with his mother.
“I live and die for my kids,” said the father of two. “When any child is in distress, you have to help. It’s a no brainer.”
Nonetheless, the city honoured the 41-year-old yesterday, naming him the 2008 Transecure employee of the year in its 19th annual awards ceremony.
Verzeroli was one of 14 transit employees to be honoured. From Bhupinderpal Gill, who informed police about an assault, leading to the arrest of three males; to Special Constable Steven Flint, who helped a young woman who was sitting on the Highway 417 overpass; to Special Constable Colin Burrill, who helped a woman in medical distress administer an Epipen, individuals were recognized for going beyond the call of duty.
The first duty of the city is to ensure the safety of its residents, said acting mayor Michel Bellemare. And the city’s transit workers are the city’s eyes and ears, he said.
“Their contributions ensure the city is one of the safest in the world,” he said.