Pinellas school bus driver Jim Letos was heading to one of his last stops of the day Monday morning, on his way to dropping students off at Palm Harbor Middle School.
He was southbound on U.S. 19 when something on the side of the road caught his eye.
"I noticed a little boy in the gulley, Had no clothes on, just a diaper," he said.
He estimated the boy was about 2 years old, and he saw no adults nearby.
He says he saw the toddler was getting very close to the road and the heavy traffic.
"Ten feet at the most, it was that close," Jim said.
Jim radioed bus dispatch to call 911. He pulled the bus over in the grass and opened the door. He ran down the steps and says the boys saw him.
"The child seen me, started running towards me, " he said.
He picked the 2 year old up and walked back on the bus, and sat down with him in the driver's seat to wait for deputies to arrive.
Jim says there were about 40 kids on the bus. He says they remained calm and all seemed concerned for the boy's safety.
Within a couple of minutes, Jim says the boy's parents came out of the nearby Knights Inn Motel.
"They came to the bus, I told them we had the child. The boyfriend said he was in the shower, the mother was sleeping. They wanted me to give them the little boy, but I told them they had to wait until deputies arrived," Letos said. "I told the man, he couldn't stay on my bus. I asked him to get off and shut the door until deputies arrived."
Jim says the boy sat with him the whole time, and never cried.
"The child was happy, I put him on the seat and we waited."
Deputies arrived quickly and spoke to the boy's parents. They believe it was all an accident and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office say no charges will be filed. The motel door has a push down handle on it. The boy's parents said obviously, the toddler easily opened it when they didn't see.
A person at the front desk of the Knights Inn Motel says the family has checked out.
Jim Letos has been driving for Pinellas Schools for 19 years.
"We see things going on. We are the eyes and ears of the roads in Pinellas County. There's over 700 drivers. So we see a lot of things going on," Letos said.
But he's never seen this.
Jim said the parents were very concerned when they realized the boy was missing.
"It's unfortunate, and they were young parents, and I felt for them," he said.
But Jim says no other drivers even attempted to stop. It makes him sick to think what could have happened. He knew in a matter of seconds, the boy was going to step onto the road.
"I saved the child's life. That's the bottom line. Yes I did, something very special, and I'm proud of myself for what I did," he said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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