Quick action garners city workers awards

12/8/2012

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

On May 16, Garden City public works employee Mike Walker noticed a little girl about 4 years old standing next to the curb along West Kansas Avenue, smiling and waving at city workers who were painting traffic markings on the busy street.

Walker looked around to see if an adult was going to come get the child, but saw no one. He then noticed a little boy about 2 years old come running down a driveway toward the street.

"I was just thinking, 'Where's the parent?,' and then it was just boom, boom, boom, boom and it was done," Walker said.

Quick action by Walker and co-worker Mario Saucedo helped prevent what could have been tragic in two children being seriously injured or worse. The men's actions also earned them this year's Distinguished Service Award from the city of Garden City, an annual award since 2006 given to city employees who go above and beyond in performing their jobs.

Saucedo and Walker both said they appreciated the award but believe anyone in similar circumstances would have done the same things they did to keep the children out of harm's way.

"I would think anybody that saw a kid running into the street would stop and grab them. I would hope so," Walker said.

Thinking back on that day still gives the men chills.

"Shoot, I don't think there was time to think. We just kind of saw it and reacted," Walker said.

Walker said when he realized no adults were around, he started to call out to Saucedo and another worker, Casey Howard, but by that time the little girl already had run into the street.

"She was quick," Saucedo said.

Saucedo dropped what he was doing and ran toward the girl, but only took a few steps before a man, who both called a "mystery man," got off an unmarked plain white bus and picked up the girl. The man pointed toward the little boy, so Saucedo quickly scooped him up near the curb and carried him back toward a house. By that time, Walker had called law enforcement. When asked where she lived, the little girl pointed to a house. The men knocked but got no response. After police arrived, the mother answered the door and told the men she was sick and had locked the door before lying down. Apparently, the little girl had unlocked the door and managed to get out, and her little brother followed.

The so-called mystery man declined an offer for a ride somewhere and walked away before they could ask his name.

"We don't know who he was," Walker said. "Personally, myself, I think it was an angel. I honestly do. Because here's the deal: The guy hops out of the bus, picks the kid up, the bus takes off. We ask if we can give him a ride anywhere and he says 'no' then walks off and he was gone. That's the cool thing about the whole deal."

Walker has worked nearly seven years for the city; Saucedo 13 years. Both men are fathers. Saucedo has three children, and Walker has six, going on seven, grandchildren. Each said they tend to keep an eye out for children while they work.

The men's boss, Public Works Director Sam Curran, had high praise for the two, calling them good workers who he can't say enough good things about.

"I'm very proud of those guys," Curran said. "I think this shows that our employees do care about the community, they do keep an eye out for the community and are willing to take that extra step or make an extra effort to make the community what it is."

Both men received a plaque and letter from City Manager Matt Allen that noted both had "gone above and beyond the requirements and expectations" of their jobs, and thanking them for their service to the city.

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