Minneapolis school bus driver saves toddler from harsh winter conditions

March 12, 2019 10:27 PM

Lyle Silbernagle enjoys being around kids.

"Whether at home, I have nine children which are mine, hers and ours and I have 24 grandkids," said Silbernagle.


Kids also provide joy while he's at work. For 36 years and counting, Silbernagle has proudly driven school buses for the Minneapolis School District. Last week he was on the road at 8:30 a.m., when he noticed a toddler trembling on a street corner at 5th and Bryant Avenues North. The boy was alone and exposed.

"He wasn't wearing shoes or socks, just a diaper," said Silbernagle.

The temperature was four degrees and paired with the windchill, it felt like minus 12, according to KSTP meteorologist Wren Clair.

The child was at real risk of frostbite or hypothermia.

"It just kind of blew me away, I quickly pulled over and got out, took my coat off, wrapped him up and put him in the front seat of the school van," he said.

Silbernagle then called his bosses and police.

"Then I took the air conditioner vents pointed them at the baby and turned the heat on full blast," Silbernagle said.

The father and grandfather tenderly talked to the child, taking care of him as they waited for more help to arrive.

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"He must be getting warm and his fingers must be tingling and burning because he held his little hands out. So I took [his] hands and went like this (rubbing his hands together) rubbing them between mine and then I would blow on them to heat them up," said Silbernagle.

At the latest school board meeting, Superintendent Ed Graff recognized the longtime bus driver for going the extra mile.

"Other than a little bit of fussing, the baby was unharmed and in good hands thanks to his quick actions," Graff said.

Silbernagle stood up and walked to the front of the meeting to shake the superintendent's hand and when he turned around to walk back to his seat, the crowd broke out in applause. 

"To me, I was just there at the right time, doing what you're supposed to do," he said.

The boy was taken to the hospital and checked out by doctors. Minneapolis police and Child Protective Services are looking into the incident. In all 36 years of driving a school bus, Silbernagle said this situation was a first. 

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Beth McDonough

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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