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California man hopes heroic act saving baby reminds others of securing strollers

He says he did "what anybody else would have."

It’s pretty much a miracle that Ron Nessman, 52, was at A1 Hand Car Wash in Hesperia, Calif., when he saw a baby stroller heading straight towards a busy street Monday afternoon.

Surveillance video from the car wash has now been seen by millions of people. The baby was clearly headed for what Nessman described as the “roaring traffic” on Bear Valley Road when he runs into the video frame and grabs the stroller. But he easily could’ve been elsewhere.

He has recently moved back in with his sister, Donna Gunderson, who had the time to take him to his job interview at Applebee’s Grill + Bar that day. She decided to get her car washed, and Nessman didn’t want to be seen in his dress clothes.

“I'm wearing a tie and slacks, and I really don't want to go out in public because I'm not that type of person,” Nessman told Yahoo News. “I'm a Levi's and a sweater [type]. And so I'm like, ‘Donna, look at me, I don't want to go to the car wash.’ Then she goes, ‘No one's going to see you, Ron.’ So 56 million views later, I guess everyone’s seen me.”

It was a windy day, and Nessman was sitting on a bench near the street while he waited for his sister.

A baby in a stroller rolls downhill from a sedan with its doors open, with the great-aunt on her hands and knees on the ground.
The baby, caught on security camera, was heading towards the road, and his great-aunt fell over in her rush to stop the stroller. (CCTV via A1 Hand Car Wash)

“I'm facing a car, and I see a stroller getting blown by the wind, and by the time I start running, when I catch the stroller, it's just at the top of the driveway, right next to traffic,” Nessman recalled. “On my way over there, the lady, she had started to run and she had fallen, and I heard her yelling, ‘My baby!’ And I'm already on it by that point. I catch it and I hold my hand up, like ‘I got it, I got it.’”

“What was going on in my head was: 'Get the stroller, get the stroller!'” Nessman’s sister Donna Gunderson told Yahoo News.

Gunderson spoke to local Los Angeles media after the rescue. She said it was a busy time of day, when cars are usually traveling at 50 to 55 mph.

The great-aunt of the child is seen in the video turning toward her car for a moment when the stroller starts to take off. Then she stumbles as she tries to run after it. Nessman said she was hysterical and crying, with bloody knees.

“She did everything in her power, it’s just sometimes your body doesn't do what your mind wants it to do,” he said. “The last thing she's seen, there's nobody in her vision that she could see that can assist her with a stroller and so I can just imagine what's going through her mind.”

Donna Gunderson stands behind Ron Nessman, who is seated, with dark glasses perched on his head and a Yankees hoodie. (Donna Gunderson)
Donna Gunderson and her brother Ron Nessman. (via Donna Gunderson)

Nessman has gone through some hard times. Although he obtained a license to drive trucks in 2008 and worked in trucking for a while, in 2018, his girlfriend died. That sent him into a downward spiral, leading to homelessness. He eventually stopped driving and downgraded his license. He also had previously been in prison.

His sister has always looked out for him, he said, and he moved into her home in Victorville, Calif., which is why she was taking him to his interview at Applebee’s.

Nessman said he hasn't heard from the establishment, but he told Yahoo News that he has since gotten four job offers from people who have seen the video, which include painting and driving a truck, with more offers rolling in, according to CBS in L.A.

“The only thing that's holding me back is transportation,” Nessman said. “I'm trying to get something where I don't have to depend on anybody. I'll take a bus, I'll ride a bike. But some of these job offers are down the hill, and I have no way to get to them. I have to call these people and thank them for their generosity,” he said.

As for the viral video, Nessman and his family joked about his being seen in his tie and slacks by so many people online. A tweet of the footage posted by one Twitter user has garnered 69.5 million views at this point.

Ron Nessman, on tape, walks the baby boy back from the road to his great aunt.
Ron Nessman walking the baby boy back to his great-aunt, whom he hugged. (CCTV via A1 Hand Car Wash)

After securing the baby, he also hugged the great aunt and met the baby's grandmother. He never did find out the child’s name, but if he could say anything to the boy in the future, it would be: “I got you.”

“I am very proud of Ron,” Gunderson said of her brother, “but I’m not surprised he did this. He is definitely a hero. I didn’t realize how close the baby was to the street until I rewatched the video.”

Nessman said that people online should stop shaming the great-aunt for what happened and posting mean comments. It could happen to anybody, so he hopes the video serves as a reminder to anyone with a small child.

“It’s an eye-opener. People see that, and I hope that they go, ‘Oh, I remember, I’ve seen that video. I'd better set the brake if it's windy and my child's in the stroller. That's all I'm hoping for. One person notices this and sets the brake. It can change everything in their life. Just that simple,” Nessman said.

“What I did was what anybody else would’ve did if they had the opportunity, and I'm thankful today that it worked out the way it did,” he added. “I couldn't imagine if anything would have been a little different. It worked out good, I mean, for everybody.”