‘Right place at the right time’: UTA bus operator saves woman from dog attack

The operator pulled his bus over when he realized the woman was being attacked.

(Utah Transit Authority) In this screenshot from a Utah Transit Authority board meeting, Nick Pappas, a UTA bus operator, hugs Marissa Bowen on March 22, 2023. Pappas saved Bowen from a dog attack on March 14, 2023.

A Utah Transit Authority bus operator was honored last week after he saved a woman from a dog attack while working his route in Kearns.

Nick Pappas was headed down 5400 South near Cougar Lane on March 14 when he noticed a woman on the sidewalk with two dogs. As he drove his bus closer, he realized the dogs — two Rottweilers — were attacking the woman, who had been pulled to the ground.

Pappas pulled the bus over and jumped into action, yelling at the dogs to get them away from the woman and ushering her inside the bus, security footage shows.

The dogs continued to try and get to the woman — who was later identified as Marissa Bowen — barking and jumping at the doorway until Pappas got the doors closed.

“They got me really good,” Bowen said in the footage after Pappas was able to get back to the driver’s seat. She later told him that the dogs were almost hit by a car, and she had originally gotten out of her own car to help the animals.

While Bowen sat inside the bus, waiting for the dogs to leave so she could get to her car, the dogs attacked the bus. At one point, the dogs ripped one off the vehicle’s large windshield wipers.

“These dogs didn’t give up at that point,” said Bill Humphreys, a UTA operations supervisor, during a UTA board meeting last week. “Nick was doing everything he could to keep her calm until assistance comes, and of course the dogs were still there when police and other assistance arrived.”

Bowen spoke at the meeting where Pappas was recognized, tearfully thanking Pappas, whom she said “saved her life.” She suffered serious wounds from all of the dog bites, and a family member set up a GoFundMe to help fund Bowen’s hospital bills.

“You really are a hero. You didn’t have to stop and you did,” Bowen said. “Now I get to see another day and hold my little boy another day. ... I can’t express my gratitude.”

Pappas said at the meeting that he just happened to be in the “right place at the right time” to help.

“She was just trying to help get a couple dogs out of the street and get them out of danger — was able to do that, when they turned on her,” said UTA police Chief Dalan Taylor.

“I was amazed by the courage [Pappas] showed,” Taylor said, adding that Pappas was “willing to put [himself] in harm’s way to save another and help another. I appreciate that.”