WINTHROP, Maine — As weather is warming up, many kids are walking to school.
At Winthrop Grade School, their crossing guard did much more than stop traffic: He helped save a life Wednesday morning.
"He's the first person that the kids see every day. The first smile. It's comfort knowing the kids are safe," Melissa Brewer, mother to a student and the school nurse, said.
Jim Clark, the crossing guard, has been standing outside the school directing traffic every morning and every afternoon for 16 years.
"You see the smiles on these kids every morning, and I enjoy it," Clark said. "These kids like to come up and talk to me and they like to show me stuff, and it's rewarding. The kids make it so."
The children don't call him a crossing guard, however.
"They call me the lifeguard," he said.
Despite a speed limit of 15 miles per hour signs during school hours, Clark said it is still dangerous.
"This street is so unsafe. It's not safe to cross here because the traffic is so fast here," he said.
Clark probably didn't expect to be actually saving lives, until this week, when Natalie Brewer was almost hit by a speeding car while crossing the road to school on Wednesday morning.
"I heard accelerating, and it happened so fast that Jim grabbed Natalie and pulled her toward me and jumped right in front of us," Brewer said.
"Jim the lifeguard saved us," Natalie said.
"I was really afraid for Natalie," Clark said. "It was that close."
It seems as if Clark has now earned his nickname.
"We would just joke and laugh and be like, 'Honey, it's a crossing guard.' So it kind of has now stuck that he really is a lifeguard," Brewer said.
Lifeguard or crossing guard, it's clear that parents are glad Jim Clark is on guard watching out for their kids every school day.