An alert Metro operator is today being hailed as a hero for helping authorities rescue a missing 6-year-old and capture her alleged kidnapper.
Metro operator Helen Brandon will be recognized at Thursday’s Metro Board meeting for the quick thinking and action that lead to the recovery of the child just hours after her disappearance.
At around 4 a.m. Sunday, a homeless woman riding a Metro bus in downtown Los Angeles told the driver, Cardell Stewart, she had fallen asleep on the bus and when she awoke, her six-year-old daughter was gone, as was a homeless man she had recognized on the bus but who was not a friend.
The description she offered operator Stewart was transmitted to the Metro bus dispatch center and L.A. County Sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau Deputies. Metro dispatch notified Metro operators across the system. About two hours later, operator Brandon called Metro dispatch to report that the child and the suspect were on her bus at Vermont Avenue and 12th Street in South Los Angeles.
Sheriff’s deputies intercepted the bus and suspect John Thomas was taken into custody on suspicion of kidnapping. The girl has been placed in protective custody.
Brandon is a part-time operator assigned to Division 5. She joined Metro in 2007.