Wisconsin State Assembly presents Peshtigo crossing guard Hometown Hero Award

PESHTIGO, Wis. (WBAY) -- A Peshtigo crossing guard continues to get recognition for her heroic efforts on-duty last winter.

Gail Bantes reads the latest article written about her in the local newspaper. The humble 82-year-old rose to fame in a matter of seconds last February.

"I do know now that I... I did do the right thing," said Bantes.

She remembers the cold winter morning of February 15, 2019, at the intersection of Business 41 and French Street where she stood as a crossing guard.

Previously a school bus driver in Marinette for 42 years, it was her first school year as a full-time crossing guard in the City of Peshtigo.

"I had sent a couple of kids across already, and I had just was watching as I seen a car coming down from the other street," she said.

The next thing she knew, she was pushing two young girls across the street before that car hit her from behind, throwing her into the middle of the road.

"I crawled across in front of the snow banks, and I got up on the sidewalk, and I thought, 'Oh my goodness, I've got to get this other kid across,'" said Bantes.

Even with several broken vertebrae, her focus was still on the kids at the intersection.

"I still had my sign in my hand after all of this," she remembers in disbelief.

After a short hospital stay, Bantes spent five weeks at a nursing home followed by months of therapy.

"I had people stopping by, and I had flowers galore," she said.

Bantes received the most votes in the Safe Kids Worldwide America's Favorite Crossing Guard contest.

A panel of judges is now reviewing the top five candidates and is expected to announce a winner early this year. The winner will receive $500 worth of new crossing guard gear and accessories.

On Wednesday, Bantes and her family took at trip to Madison where the Wisconsin State Assembly presented her with the Hometown Hero Award.

"I'm just overwhelmed with so much that I think I need a rest maybe sometime soon," Bantes.

Bantes remains active working various jobs throughout the community. She also has plans to return as a crossing guard in the near future.

"Things happen too fast today, I think, and I just hope people have taken this into consideration now and are paying more attention," she said.



 
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