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'Now's our time to shine': Northwest Ohio invention getting national attention in infrastructure law

Steve Gardner created the Gardian Angel School Bus Lighting System after he learned a 15-year-old girl was killed while catching the bus in Sylvania.

TOLEDO, Ohio — We saw President Joe Biden sign his infrastructure plan into law earlier this week. It includes some added safety measures for school buses.

It's a topic of importance to east Toledoan Steve Gardner. "I worked 35 years in the industry on the school buses," he says. 

Gardner is a retired fleet mechanic, but he's still committed to keeping kids safe while getting on and off the school bus. About ten years ago he invented the Gardian Angel School Bus Lighting System after he learned a 15-year-old girl was killed while crossing the street to catch a bus in Sylvania. 

"And the first thing the lady said was, 'I never saw her,'" recalls Steve, but he couldn't accept that. So he put pen to paper and invented a simple lighting system that shines a path on the ground in front of the school bus.

The lights attach to the bumper and come on when the driver flips on the emergency lights and stop arm. "The first one I made - the prototype - made the hair on my arm stand up," says Steve.

The now-patented Gardian Angel is being used in some local districts and 25 other states.

His son Andrew helps with the marketing. The pair has even worked with the NTSB. 

"It's very emotional, going through all of this. We've experienced a lot of negative people over the years and now's our time to shine," says Andrew Gardner.

The order forms could be lighting up soon, thanks to a new requirement for districts in the recently-signed infrastructure bill. 

"Within the law, they have to evaluate the Gardian Angel Lighting System, among other forms of technology," Andrew Gardner adds, "Weigh those options to see which is the best option."

Steve says he isn't in it for the money. The lights are less than $200. He's just thankful he's found a way to make a difference.

"I want to save lives," Steve says. "That's important to me."

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