May 7, 1998

'I'm no hero,' says modest bus driver

Manny DaCosta to the rescue

by Jordan Zivitz

Manuel DaCosta wants people to know that he isn't a hero. The Concordia shuttle bus driver simply inserted himself into a verbal and physical altercation that took place at the Loyola campus on Tuesday, April 21.

The trouble began when a female motorist was hit from behind outside the main entrance of the Loyola Campus. Her car didn't suffer any damage, but when the other driver emerged from his vehicle, she noticed that he appeared to be drunk.

"I asked him if he'd been drinking, and that sparked him," said the woman. "He became very verbally abusive."

DaCosta was leaving on his last run from Loyola when the fender-bender occurred. "I pulled up beside [the woman], and she told me to call 911 because the [other driver] was drunk and was trying to leave," he said.

As a number of pedestrians gathered near the two motorists, the man returned to his car, but the woman attempted to wrench his keys away from him. "We didn't want him getting back in the car," she said. "Because of the way he was behaving we all thought he was drunk, and we were afraid that he was going to hit somebody again."

The man got out of his car and began shoving the woman, at which point DaCosta left his bus to call 911 and intervene in the escalating dispute. "I got between them," he said, "and a couple of minutes later a student came out of the bus to help us."

An employee of Concordia eventually reached the scene of the accident to see if any assistance was needed. He told DaCosta that he would wait for the police to show up, and the bus driver boarded his vehicle and prepared to drive away.

"While I was leaving, the driver was trying to get back in his car and was trying to force the door open, but the employee didn't let him go," DaCosta said. "I was looking in my mirror, and I saw the driver take a swing at the employee."

DaCosta stopped the bus again, and returned to the street with the student who had helped to intervene a few minutes earlier. The female driver (whose daughter was waiting in her car until a family friend drove by and took her home) told the other motorist that he could get back in his car, but only if he gave her his license.

"The guy shoved the woman one more time and her head snapped back," DaCosta said, "so I grabbed the guy from behind and put my arms round his neck." DaCosta then dragged the man to the sidewalk, warned him not to touch the woman again, and drove off on his last run. The Concordia employee and several pedestrians stayed at the scene until the police arrived.

DaCosta has been a shuttle bus driver for eight months and has never previously physically intervened in an incident on the job. He didn't tell anybody about his involvement in the incident. It was only when an employee posted a message on the staff electronic newsgroup Shoptalk that his actions became known.

DaCosta feels uncomfortable with his moment in the spotlight. "Everybody's saying I'm a hero, but I'm not," he declared. "It was something small that got out of hand. I was there, I helped, and I left. The only difference was that I grabbed the guy. But there were people there to help if the situation got even worse."

The female driver sent a bottle of wine to DaCosta as a token of her gratitude, and DaCosta wants her to know that he appreciated the gift.

"It was reassuring for me that he got involved," the woman said. "It was all quite frightening, especially with my daughter in the car. I didn't know what [the other driver] was going to do."

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