By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Quick-thinking Turlock bus driver honored for helping special needs teen
Turlock bus driver
Turlock Transit bus driver David Lockett poses with the 2024 CalACT Frontline Hero Award, an honor for transit professionals who go above and beyond in serving the special needs community, for helping a local runaway special needs teen return home (Photo courtesy of Turlock Transit).

What was supposed to be a regular day of driving community members around town on a chilly February day for Turlock Transit bus driver David Lockett quickly turned something much more serious, as he encountered a runaway, special needs teen on-board his bus. After calming the teen and coordinating his return home with local law enforcement, Lockett was honored for his efforts in a special ceremony last month.

Lockett was recognized on April 23 by the California Association for Coordinated Transportation, Inc. with the 2024 CalACT Frontline Hero Award, which honors transit professionals that go above and beyond in serving the special needs community, 

On the evening of Feb. 29, while boarding riders at the Roger K. Fall Transit Center in Turlock, Lockett observed a male teen on board the bus who appeared to be lost and confused. Lockett struck up a conversation with the boy and offered to help him complete his return trip home. During the conversation, the boy revealed he had run away from home.

Lockett remained calm and continued to talk with the boy, while also alerting transit dispatchers, who in turn alerted law enforcement. Following coordination between the Turlock and Modesto police departments, it was learned that MPD had been actively seeking his return on social media. The boy had presumably used public transit to travel from Modesto to Turlock before getting lost. Due to Lockett’s quick thinking and the teamwork between transit dispatchers and law enforcement, the boy was returned safely to his family. 

In the following weeks, Lockett was jointly nominated by his employers, Storer Transportation and the City of Turlock for the prestigious transit award. The stories of each nominee underwent a competitive, statewide review before the honor was officially awarded to him at the CalACT Spring Conference and Expo in San Diego. He received a standing ovation from attendees after his story was shared. 

“I could not be prouder of David for exercising both professionalism and compassion when it mattered most,” said Wayne York, transit manager for the City of Turlock. “His efforts directly led to the safe return of a teen to his family and highlighted the important role that transit professionals have in serving the community... which extends beyond driving buses. I believe we have the best transit team in the business and David is a shining example of that.”