Toddler Who Wandered from Home Rescued by Eau Claire Bus Driver

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth |


Eau Claire Transit buses at the downtown transfer center. (File photo by Andrea Paulseth)
Eau Claire Transit buses at the downtown transfer center. (File photo by Andrea Paulseth)

In these strange, anxious times, it’s good to be reminded that there are acts of kindness all around. Consider an incident on Tuesday in Eau Claire, when a quick-thinking Eau Claire Transit driver rescued a toddler who had wandered away from her home and into the street.

The bus driver, Mike Steinke, was driving on Eau Claire Transit Route #5 – which serves parts of downtown and the south side via Rudolph Road and Fairfax Street – on Tuesday when he spotted the toddler. According to a city press release, the quick-thinking Steinke stopped his bus in the lane of traffic, retrieved the less than 2-year-old child, and called the dispatch center to get help finding her home. The toddler was soon reunited with her family.

Here are the full details via a press release from the City of Eau Claire:


Eau Claire, Wisconsin – On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, a local city bus driver observed a toddler in the middle of the traffic lanes on Harding Ave as he was driving the Eau Claire Transit Route #5. He stopped the bus in the lane of traffic, got out, and retrieved the toddler. The driver then called the dispatch center to receive assistance finding out where the child belonged.

Mike Steinke, a Bus Operator for the City of Eau Claire for more than five years acted quickly after alertly noticing the child in the street. “I just went over to her and opened my arms and she let me pick her up and carry her to the bus,” Steinke said. The child, who is not yet two years old, didn’t cry or act like there was anything wrong when Steinke approached her.

Steinke contacted his supervisor, Ange Norgaard, and informed her of the situation. She contacted the Eau Claire Police Department and an officer was dispatched to the scene. Before the officer arrived, the mother realized something was wrong when she saw her front door open and a bus parked out on the street. She went to the bus and was shocked, but appreciative, to see her daughter there with Steinke.

What could have been a terrible tragedy was avoided because of the bus operator’s alert and quick actions, and thankfully mother and daughter are reunited!