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February 06, 2023

SEPTA bus driver who stopped carjacking invited to State of the Union address

Chris DeShields was invited to Tuesday night's speech by Rep. Brendan Boyle after the transit worker scared off would-be robbers in Fishtown on Jan. 25

Transportation State Of The Union
SEPTA Driver State of the Union Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Chris DeShields, a driver on SEPTA's Route 5, was invited to Tuesday's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. by Rep. Brendan Boyle after stopping a carjacking in Fishtown on Jan. 25.

A SEPTA bus driver who intervened and stopped a carjacking in Fishtown in January is slated to attend President Joe Biden's State of the Union address as Rep. Brendan Boyle's guest, the congressman announced on Sunday. 

Chris DeShields, a 17-year employee of Philadelphia's public transit system, came to the rescue when he used his 40-foot bus to scare off would-be robbers near West Thompson Street in Fishtown late on Wednesday, Jan. 25. While driving his Route 5 bus carrying about five passengers, he came across three men attempting to rob a young woman after they forced her out of her car.

DeShields quickly angled the bus in their direction, leaned on the horn, flashed the blinkers and yelled out of the window, startling the men and causing them to run off. Though SEPTA drivers and conductors are advised not to intervene when they see crime happening outside of their vehicle, DeShields was able to quickly ward off the potential robbery, 6ABC reported. 

DeShields was contacted by Boyle's staff to be his guest to Tuesday night's address in Washington, D.C., as a way to recognize his heroism and courage. Boyle's father, Frank Boyle, is a retired SEPTA janitor. 

"I am proud to have my constituent Chris DeShields join me for this year's State of the Union Address," Boyle said in a release. "Chris's brave actions on that night should be recognized. He is a true example of an ordinary person who did an extraordinary thing." 

As a SEPTA driver, DeShields is bound to protect his passengers as they journey through the city on his route. After he stopped the carjacking, DeShields quickly got off the bus and made sure that someone from a nearby bar could stay with the woman while she waited for police to arrive before taking his passengers home, CBS Philly reported. 

"I don't recommend people go out and fight crime, and I don't have any kind of training for that," DeShields told the Inquirer at the time. "But as a citizen I think you need to help out if you can. See something, say something." 

Members of Congress are once again allowed to invite guests to the president's annual address after COVID-19 protocols prevented them from doing so the last few years. Boyle, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said that Biden's Tuesday evening address will highlight "the tremendous progress we have made for everyday families." 

Though the White House has yet to announce Biden's guests for the address, some other members of Congress have announced theirs. Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat from Nevada, invited RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Tyree Nichols, a Black man who was beaten to death by police officers in Memphis earlier this month, Politico reported. 

Rep. Mike McCaul, a Republican from Texas, has invited Roya Rahmani, the former Afghanistan ambassador to the United States, as a statement on Biden's withdrawal of troops from the country in August 2021.

Biden will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 7, beginning at 9 p.m. The State of the Union address will be streamed live on the White House's YouTube channel.