Internet fund-raisers swoop in to save hero bus driver

Helping hand: Hero bus driver Steven St. Bernard was in danger of losing his benefits and his home after injuring his arm before his buddy, Coney activist Todd Dobrin, stepped in.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A hero city bus driver who seriously injured his hand grabbing a 7-year-old girl from a fall in Coney Island this summer and can no longer make ends meet is getting a helping hand from big-hearted internet users.

Our article about Steven St. Bernard, the Coney Island bus driver who caught a girl falling from a third-story air conditioning unit in July — and put himself out of work by seriously himself in the process — inspired a wave of generosity after the story went online on Sept. 5.

Web developer Michael Healy created an online fund-raising drive — named “Give Steve a hug” — on www.indiegogo.com to help St. Bernard out.

“Hey guys, let’s offer a helping hand to Steven St. Bernard, who put himself on the line to save a seven-year-old,” Healy wrote in his pitch.

The online campaign, which is hoping to raise $6,000 for St. Bernard, raised $757 within 24 hours. By Tuesday, $1,170 had been raised.

Even less-technically savvy readers jumped in on the action as they started their own fund-raising drives.

“I was thinking of just writing him a check,” said Dennis Hersch, a Suffolk County attorney who has started a collection for St. Bernard. “But thinking about it some more, starting a fund seems like an even better idea.”

St. Bernard is currently on disability as his shredded tendon that required extensive medical procedures — including drilling into the bone of his forearm and installing metal supports — mends.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials made sure St. Bernard could fall back on his benefits, but the Coney Island resident said the $1,400 he gets a month isn’t enough to pay the rent and provide for his wife and daughter.

“My rent is $1,200 a month, so what am I to do?” St. Bernard said.

St. Bernard said he appreciated the assistance, both on and off-line.

“Anything would help,” he said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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