A GO bus driver is being commended for helping a University of Guelph student as she was reportedly followed by an unknown man.
The incident happened on the night of Jan. 20 in a poorly-lit area of York Road and Watson Parkway.
Bryan Jeresano, who has been driving GO buses for Metrolinx for seven years, said it was a normal westbound trip towards the university’s campus.
A common feature of that trip is seeing the 18-year-old student waiting at a Guelph Transit bus stop, he said, and they occasionally even exchange waves.
But this night was different.
“She looked scared and she was looking straight into my eyes,” Jeresano described, noting that the young woman was walking away from a car parked nearby.
“Her eyes were darting towards me and that’s when I thought I’m going to open my door.”
With the bus stopped, Jeresano asked if everything was OK. The terrified student reported to him that the nearby car had just stopped, and a man got out and started walking towards her.
“She told me that they were trying to get her inside the car,” he said. “I just said ‘come on in.'”
In the commotion, Jeresano said he didn’t really see anyone, but noticed the car door close before the vehicle drove off.
Jeresano followed the car for a bit to obtain a licence plate number and at first, the two didn’t take the matter seriously, but it started to click when the adrenaline wore off.
“We said out loud what could’ve happened, like bad things, and I said you may have dodged a bullet there,” Jeresano said.
“That’s when I told her I think you need to report it to police.”
Guelph police say they are investigating the incident but could not provide specific details.
Jeresano didn’t make a big deal of the incident, but he is a new father and said the entire ordeal hit him when he got home.
“I said ‘what if that was my daughter?’ I just hope someone would do the same thing,” he said.
Jeresano and the young woman’s mother were connected through Metrolinx after she reached out to various local Facebook groups, hoping to find him.
They have been texting back and forth.
“If it wasn’t for this amazing human being, and his quick reaction, I don’t even want to think what would have happened to my daughter,” the teenager’s mother told Metrolinx.
“I can’t stress enough how much appreciation I have for this kind soul.”
A humble Jeresano said it was just another night on the job.
The bus driver often goes the extra mile as he doesn’t drop off female passengers at certain stations alone at night. For example, he said instead of dropping them off at Guelph Central Station, he will take them to a nearby taxi stand.
Metrolinx said Jeresano will be receiving a safety award for his dedication and commitment to public safety.
“Safety and good customer service are critical components of all Metrolinx staff training,” said Eve Wiggins, vice president of bus services with GO Transit.
“I am extremely proud of each of our drivers and am so happy that Bryan used his keen eye and commitment to great public service to help this young woman.”
Jeresano credits the training he has received.
“Everyone home safe, every day, really is our goal, not just a slogan,” he said.