When TSA Officer Joe Frost saw a toddler walking alone on the sidewalk of a busy Chicago street at 4 a.m., he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him.
“It was weird, something you don’t see ever,” he explained. “I didn’t see any cars or adults around.”
Frost, a seven-year veteran of TSA, was on his way to work at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) when he saw the little girl start walking into the street.
Turning his car around as fast as he could, Frost safely removed the child from the street.
“I asked her, ‘Where [are] your parents?’” he shared. “She wasn’t able to answer and at one point started crying.”
Frost immediately called 911. Two women who were driving by on their way home from work saw what was going on and offered to assist. The child was placed in the woman’s car to keep warm while they waited for police to arrive.
“They comforted her,” Frost said.
Police arrived in minutes, and took over from there.
Frost said he doesn’t know anything more about why the toddler was alone walking in the early hours of the morning, but what he does know was that he “saw a girl who needed help.”
“We live in a big city and it’s four in the morning,” said ORD Deputy Federal Security Director of Screening Louis Traverzo who was thankful Frost was there at the right time and place. “You just don’t know what situation one will come across at that hour of the day. In this case, Joe made the angelic and humane decision to get involved, as a good Samaritan would do.”
News reports said no crime occurred and the child was reunited with her guardian.
Traverzo and his coworkers are not at all surprised Frost got involved. It reflects the kind of person he is: his character and morals.
“Joe is well known by the ORD workforce as an extremely humble person who does not seek any attention for his actions,” Traverzo said. “He looks at this situation as something that he was gifted, in [it] being presented to him, and he chose to do the right thing for the benefit of this child.”
Lead TSA Officer Talitha Matulac, who affectionately calls him Frosty, said, "[His] heroic act is a true testament to his character."
“He does not like to bring attention to himself, but instead uplifts others by being humble,” Matulac shared. “The collective pride was palpable at checkpoint 10, Terminal 5, and this [recognition] couldn't have happened to a more deserving individual. Team ORD is glad it was Joe who braved the harsh Chicago winter and found the little girl.”
For his compassionate deed, ORD Federal Security Director Dereck Starks will be issuing Frost a $1,000 Special Achievement Award, a certificate of appreciation and challenge coin.
“TSA Illinois is very proud of Joe’s actions,” said Traverzo. “We’re grateful to see any TSA employee across the nation represent our agency in such a positive manner in giving back to our communities.”
While a lot of people are calling Frost a hero, he believes he did what anyone would have done.
“I just see it as doing the right thing,” he said. “I think anyone in my position would have done the right thing. I was just there in the right moment.”
By Ariana Diaz, TSA Strategic Communications and Public Affairs