Caught on Tape: Transit Employees' ‘Heroic Acts’

Posted on August 8, 2017 by Heather Redfern - Also by this author

A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority bus in service. Photo: SEPTA
A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority bus in service. Photo: SEPTA

For transit employees working with the public on a daily basis, no two shifts might be the same and each day can bring an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the customers we serve. Often, the acts go unnoticed, but for two Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) employees, their special acts — both coming within hours of each other — were caught on video.

On June 29, Jeff Schoolfield, a 20-year veteran SEPTA bus operator, was driving the Route 65 along a stretch of Philadelphia’s busy City Avenue. One of his passengers, a visually-impaired man, had difficulty crossing the street after alighting the bus. Schoolfield exited the bus and escorted the man through traffic. One rider, so touched by Schoolfield’s act, captured it all on a cellphone video and sent it to Philadelphia’s Fox affiliate. On a follow-up story with the station, Schoolfield explained, “I expect any driver to do it.”

Early on the morning of June 30, SEPTA Police Sergeant Marc Pasquarella, a seven-year veteran, was on his usual overnight patrol, checking on his officers in the field, when he came upon a motor vehicle accident in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. When Pasquarella exited his patrol car, he saw an unconscious man behind the wheel of a car that had struck a trash truck, the driver’s legs wedged under the car’s dashboard. The car had also caught fire as a result of the impact. With the help of a Good Samaritan, who had stopped at the accident scene, Pasquarella was able to pull the driver from the car, seconds before it was engulfed in flames.

“I kept slipping on the engine oil, and that’s what really concerned me,” said Pasquarella. “The front of the car is on fire, I’m worried about that catching fire and engulfing me and the passerby.”

The driver was hospitalized with serious injuries. Pasquarella’s heroic act was caught by his patrol car’s dashboard camera and his body worn camera.

“We are proud of the actions of Operator Schoolfield and Sergeant Pasquarella,” said SEPTA GM Jeffrey Knueppel. “They exemplify our employees’ commitment to our customers and our community. The videos show the public what we know transit employees do on a regular basis — go above and beyond the call of duty.”

Heather Redfern is the Public Information Manager for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.   

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