Jim Letos was driving his school bus to Palm Harbor Middle last month when he saw something curious on the side of US 19: a small child, unattended.
On Tuesday, the Pinellas County School Board honored Letos for stopping to help.
"In this brief moment of time, Mr. Letos also served as a role model to the students on the bus in the way he reacted to this situation," Superintendent Michael Grego wrote in a memo. "He could have easily driven on to his next bus stop and ignored this situation as so many other drivers were doing at the time."
Instead, Letos pulled the bus over and called 911. Then he brought the child onto the school bus, where students helped him care for the toddler until police arrived.
When the parents came out of a nearby motel looking for the child, Letos told them the toddler was safe, but waited until police arrived and confirmed the parents' identities before handing the child over.
Letos has been driving buses for Pinellas schools for 19 years.
Two school bus assistants also were recognized at Tuesday's school board meeting for their quick action when a car collided with their school bus on Feb. 11. Emma Frazier Redmond and Livondra Dandy sought help for the school bus's injured driver, and checked on students and the elderly woman who had been driving the car.
Contact Lisa Gartner at [email protected]