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Joaquin Langarica: A Quiet Hero Among Us

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Throughout the years, a handful of VTA bus operators have made news headlines for acts of heroism while on the job.

There are also dozens of heroes at VTA that don’t receive that level of recognition, but quietly go about their day working, while also serving as the watchful eyes of the community and protecting the public’s welfare.

VTA Operator Joaquin Langarica is among them. Thanks to his vigilant actions, he helped a man receive immediate medical attention.

Soft-spoken Langarica is uncomfortable with the hero description. “I did what anyone else would have done in my position,” says Langarica, who insists he was just being a good human being by helping fellow mankind.

He credits his faith for his attitude towards life and feels grateful about his work at VTA. He especially enjoys the people he meets and gets to know daily. Langarica shared he had a sixth sense when it comes to being observant about people.

It was that very instinct that guided Langarica when the situation unfolded before him on the afternoon of February 15. He was operating Bus Line 22 headed westbound toward Palo Alto, when he passed his San Antonio stop after he saw no one waiting.

His coach had two passengers onboard so he continued along his route and travelled about 25 feet when Langarica noticed a man on his back, laying spread eagle on the street sidewalk, with a knapsack haphazardly positioned nearby.

“He was wearing blue jeans and new tennis shoes but he wasn’t moving.”

It was obvious to Langarica that the man was not living on the streets but someone in pain. Without missing a beat, Langarica pulled his coach over, opened his bus doors to call out to the man by asking, “Sir, are you okay?”

When the man did not respond, Langarica jumped out of his vehicle, got closer, and heard him whisper, “No, my heart.” Langarica contacted VTA’s Operations Control Center to summon for help and then waited by the man’s side until medical personnel arrived to transport him to Stanford Medical Center.

After the emergency vehicle left, Langarica returned to apologize to his passenger (the other one had deboarded) for having to unexpectedly stop. He then continued about his day and shortly after 3p.m., completed his shift and was ready to head back to his home in Oakland.

Langarica, a spiritual man, is a self-described blessed family man, who is proud to have raised his two adult children with his junior high school sweetheart and devoted wife, Lali.

News of Langarica’s extraordinary actions spread among his colleagues. But he downplays his part. Based on his nearly 11 years at VTA, he believes he didn’t do anything out of the normal.

“VTA drivers care about our passengers and the public—if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have a job.”

His Supervisor Mike Costa was quick to point out that he was not surprised to learn Langarica was the operator whose immediate actions helped save a man’s life.

“He’s a great operator,” says Costa. “He’s one of the good ones.”


 

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