BART Station Agent Tracks Down Missing Man with Autism

BART station agent hailed as "hero" for locating at-risk 24-year old.

A BART station agent is being hailed as a hero for his role in locating a man with autism who had gone missing after riding the transit network.

The 24-year-old man had gone missing earlier this month after not getting off BART at Walnut Creek along with the rest of his group, much to the consternation of his mother, Stephanie Jacob of Pleasant Hill, who was afraid "I might never see him again," she said.

The Pleasant Hill man, who was described as "non-verbal," was discovered at Pittsburg/Bay Point, the end of the line, by station agent John Buitrago.

Buitrago, who has a daughter with autism, recognized the young man based upon his body language, he told BART's official news network. The man was outside, and had a "pacing and holding tight" to his body, Buitrago said.

Buitrago approached the man with an outstretched hand and "did what a father would do," he said, adding that autistic folks can be "lost in their own world. You have to communicate differently."

Buitrago, a station agent for 16 years, was hailed as an "unsung hero" by BART management.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us