HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

“He Saved My Son’s Life,” The Power Of One Payson Man’s Wave

Mar 15, 2019, 6:45 PM | Updated: 7:06 pm

PAYSON, Utah — One Payson man is known for standing on the corner near his house for up to three or four hours, seven days a week — doing one simple thing. This small gesture has done more than his family ever expected.

36-year-old Brandon Baker starts his day at Central Utah Enterprises Linen Supply, a sheltered workshop in Provo, doing laundry.

He loads washers and dryers, and folds tablecloths and towels with his co-workers who also have developmental disabilities.

Brandon Baker doesn’t talk, but says everything he needs to with his hands and a smile.

His co-worker Scott Zwick said, “Brandon is a good friend. He waves to everyone, makes everybody smile, [and] makes everybody happy.”

Brandon Baker

Brandon Baker

Everyone at work is fond of Brandon Baker.

“Although he is non-verbal, he is very keen to people’s emotions [and] very keen to how a person’s feeling that day and looks for opportunities to make people happy,” Steven Hartline, Program Manager at Central Utah Enterprises, said.

However, doing laundry is only the beginning of Brandon Baker’s day.

In the late afternoon, his father, Ken Baker, picks him up when he is not taking the bus home.

“Okay buddy, let’s go home!” he says.

As soon as Brandon Baker gets home, he throws his backpack in the house and immediately goes outside.

“When he gets home from work, that’s usually the first thing he does,” his mother JoAnn Baker said.

It’s something he has done for more than 25 years.

“Brandon is known for his smile and his wave,” his older brother, Phil Baker, explained. “For someone who can’t talk, he is the most social person I know.”

He religiously stands on the corner of his house for up to three or four hours some days and waves at every car that drives by. People in Payson often go out of their way to drive by his house to honk and wave back as they go by.

Just about everyone in Payson claims to be his best friend.

“But I’ve got to say, I’m his best! I’m his bestie!” family friend John Edwards said.

Bus driver Gayle Openshaw is also a good friend. She knows how much Brandon Baker loves school buses.

She makes sure to drive her school bus by the Bakers’ house every day to pull her bus horn.

“He’s my buddy! No matter where I go, no matter what I do, if we see each other he gets excited,” Openshaw said.

Ken Baker said Brandon’s interactions with everyone he meets are genuine.

“There’s nothing fake about Brandon,” he said. “Brandon doesn’t forget a person. You meet him once and if he sees you drive by, he’ll recognize you and wave and he knows exactly who you are.”

Unless it’s storming, the town can count on him to be in front of his house.

“Yesterday he was out there for two hours. I had to finally call him in and say okay, ‘It’s getting dark. Come in,’” JoAnn Baker said.

His mother never thought much about his routine, until one day a neighbor approached her.

“I have something I need to tell you about Brandon,” she told JoAnn Baker. “Actually he saved my son’s life.”

This woman said her son was driving up the canyon last year.

He was very depressed and “was contemplating suicide,” JoAnn Baker said.

As he drove up the road, her son saw Brandon Baker smiling and waving.

“[He] kind of pulled over and sat there and thought, ‘If Brandon can live his life with the challenges that he has and still be happy, then why can’t I?’” JoAnn Baker recalls from their conversation.

Her son decided to turn his car around and instead go home. To this day, Brandon Baker has no idea his wave saved a life that day.

“That kind of an impact—how do you measure something like that?” Ken Baker expressed.

Brandon’s father says he imagines Brandon will stand on that corner until he is living somewhere else and in that case he’s sure Brandon will always find another corner to stand and wave on.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Healthy Mind Matters

Officer Casey Burton saved a man from a drug overdose in Liberty Park with Naloxone. (KSL TV)...
Jed Boal, KSL TV

‘He was super thankful’: Police officer saves man from overdose at Liberty Park

Liberty Park is a busy place as the weather warms. Tuesday an alert Salt Lake City Police Officer came across a man who was struggling to stand. The officer was in the right place to save a man from a drug overdose.
28 days ago
Rylin Adams...
Tamara Vaifanua, KSL TV

Elite Utah athlete talks about her struggles with mental health

Athletes are disciplined, strong-willed, and dedicated but they don’t always have it all together.
29 days ago
FILE: In this photo illustration, the TikTok app is displayed on an Apple iPhone on August 7, 2020 ...
Larry D. Curtis

TikTok and social media can distort mental health information for teens

Teens, just like adults can find themselves scrolling through video after social-media video. The billion — yes billion — users on TikTok are primarily teens and some mental health professionals have stated the platform is negatively impacting the mental health crisis.
1 month ago
The SafeUT app provides real-time crisis intervention for people in immediate distress....
Jed Boal, KSL TV

Experts: SafeUT app has helped thwart threats at Utah schools

The SafeUT app was launched more than five years ago as a response to a public health crisis with suicide. That app has also helped thwart violent attacks at schools.
1 month ago
Members of the community gather at a City of Uvalde Town Square for a prayer vigil in the wake of a...
KSL TV

Psychologist gives advice for parents to talk to children about school shootings

Outrage and heartbreak have gripped the country after 19 children and two adults were massacred at Ross Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
1 month ago
Utah Health Department Sign...
Ladd Egan, KSL TV

Utah 2021 Student Survey: Mental health concerns increase while drug use decreases

A 2021 survey of Utah students shows the impact of the pandemic on their lives with an increase in mental health concerns but a decrease in substance use.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
“He Saved My Son’s Life,” The Power Of One Payson Man’s Wave