Chicago Transit Board Honors Three Employees With Spirit of Chicago Award

March 9, 2005

Employees Cited for Helping Locate Missing Toddler, Safely Evacuating Smoky Train

The Chicago Transit Board presented three CTA employees with the 'spirit of Chicago? Award at its monthly meeting today. The 'spirit of Chicago? Award is presented to individuals in recognition of outstanding performance for Chicago Transit Authority customers.

The Board honored CTA bus operator Denise Williamson for helping the Chicago Police Department locate a 3-year-old toddler who had been missing for three days; and rail operator Albert Mitchell and customer assistant Frederick Stinson for working together to safely evacuate customers from a smoking Green Line train.

?We commend these CTA employees for their attentiveness and prompt action," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. ?Their concern for their fellow citizens certainly embodies what the Spirit of Chicago Award is all about and we are pleased to honor them in this way."

?These employees did an outstanding job of taking care of our customers," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?We salute their clear thinking under pressure and the professional way they performed their jobs."

A routine commute on the Green Line turned into a serious situation on February 24 when smoke was discovered coming from a northbound rail car as CTA rail operator Albert Mitchell pulled out of the 43rd Street 'L' station.

Mitchell investigated the situation. With the help of customer assistant Frederick Stinson, customers in the back end of the six-car train were evacuated. Mitchell then slowly motored the smoking 'L' train approximately one-half mile to the next station at Indiana, where the remaining customers safely exited onto the station platform. He then moved the burning train out of harms way in an area ideally positioned for firefighters to put out the fire. None of the customers were injured.

Mitchell is a four-year CTA employee and Stinson has worked with the CTA for 31 years.

For her part, Williamson, a full-time bus operator on the #9 Ashland CTA bus route, had driven the bus to the end of the line at Southport and Clark on February 18 when she noticed the toddler with an adult customer on her bus.

She recognized the child from news reports and asked a customer to exit the bus and flag down a nearby Chicago police officer. Her quick thinking helped police locate the missing toddler and ultimately led to the toddler's safe return to her family. Williamson has been a bus operator since joining the CTA in 1997. She also serves as a line instructor training new bus operators.

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