I take the #14 University bus to work in Victoria every morning. I get on the bus just after it turns left onto Richmond Avenue, and I travel downtown to the Hudson building.
This morning something really unusual happened. Just before we drove by the hospital on Richmond, my driver slammed on his brakes to stop abruptly. I saw a man had crossed the road against the light, and I thought he was lucky he didn’t get hit. The driver pulled into the next stop, which is across the street from the hospital. A police car put on its siren, as they had apparently followed the man from the hospital. Our driver got out and talked to the police, then came back to tell us that they were arresting the man under the mental health act, since the man had just tried to commit suicide by stepping in front of our double decker bus.
A transit supervisor appeared within minutes, and had us all exit the bus and take the next one, which arrived shortly after.
I don’t have a car these days, so I get around town by bus all the time. I pretty much take the bus drivers for granted – I have always found them to be kind and courteous, and on the rare occasion when something has happened (a tire blew out one time, once a bus pulled over due to an oil leak, another time there was a brief collision; there have been detours, and delays due to snow and ice) the bus driver in question has always acted in a professional way.
Our bus driver today had a major shock – he said several times that in 15 years of driving he has never had anything like this happen.
I’ve been thinking about this all day, and really it was very upsetting. While I believe the mentally ill man was in no condition to understand the impact of his actions on others, I am sure I would have been traumatized for a very long time if I had been on a bus that killed someone, suicide or not.
Not only did the bus driver’s quick reflexes save the life of that poor man, he kept all the passengers safe, and as one of the other passengers said to me “now that man can get the help he needs”. This other passenger saw the man as he dashed in front of our bus, and she said he looked very determined.
I want you to pass along my thanks to the driver this morning – I wish I could give him the medal that he deserves.