May 24, 2023

US man leaves job interview, rescues baby in runaway stroller, then lands job

Ron Nessman was leaving a job interview at a California Applebee's when he spotted a baby stroller hurtling towards a busy road

Having experienced homelessness and unemployment for years, Ron Nessman was leaving a job interview at an Applebee's restaurant in California when a baby in a stroller rolling into the path of several cars captured his attention.

Nessman sprinted toward the stroller, stopped it before it reached the roadway, saved the child from harm – and landed his first job in years to cap off a story that has interrupted a US news cycle dominated by headlines about mass killings and bitter partisan politics.

"I didn't even have time to think about it," Nessman told the local news station KOVR-TV when reflecting on his actions, which many have hailed as heroic. "You just react."

Unhoused for about eight years, Nessman had reportedly been living with his sister during recent months and was in need of work when he went to an Applebee's in San Bernardino county to interview for a position washing dishes at the restaurant on 1 May. Nessman had left the interview and was waiting on a bench outside when he spotted an extraordinary emergency unfolding.

A woman had stopped on the driveway of a nearby car wash and loaded her great-nephew into a stroller when strong winds blew the baby away from her. The woman chased after the stroller but fell, and she struggled to get back up as she helplessly watched the baby roll toward a street which was packed with motorists who may or may not have been obeying a speed limit of 40 miles (64km) an hour.

Nessman immediately jumped up from the bench, sprinted to the stroller and stopped it with his right hand as it approached the nearest traffic lane, according to dramatic video captured by a surveillance camera at the car wash. He turned the stroller around and began wheeling it up the driveway as at least eight cars who did not appear to notice the scene zoomed by.

"I said, you know, ‘I got it!’" Nessman recounted as he told KOVR about preventing the baby from being hit and hurt – or worse – by any of the incoming cars. "Because I felt so bad for the lady. I got nephews and nieces. I can imagine something like that [happening].

"I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I did nothing, of course. I’m just glad I realized it and was on it."

The video of Nessman's leaping into life-saving action circulated widely on social media. Nessman told the California news station KNSD that relatives as far away as Florida and Missouri had seen the footage.

In his interview with KOVR, Nessman said he began experiencing homelessness after becoming deeply struck with grief over his girlfriend's unexpected death.

"It was sudden and I didn't want to do anything," Nessman said.

The former big rig truck driver told the station that he moved to the San Bernardino area recently to reconnect with his family.

KNSD reported on 4 May that Applebee's subsequently hired Nessman, and his orientation was scheduled for the next day. He has also reportedly received other job offers, including painting and driving big rigs again.

"I’ll earn everything I get so – with that in mind, you know – I appreciate the opportunity that Applebee's has given me," Nessman told KNSD. "It's really cool."