Traumatic Thursday

Trigger warning: This is an unpleasant story involving a nasty accident, but we are all ok.

I was walking back home after dropping my younger daughter to school this morning. I was walking down the road and I stopped to talk to my friend on her bike for a few minutes. A bus was coming so my friend moved her bike off the road onto the pavement out of the way while we were chatting, and then shortly after that we said goodbye. She cycled away and I continued walking in the same direction the bus had just gone.

I was looking at my phone but I heard a loud crunch and looked up and saw the bus was turning right onto a side road. Initially thought “what a numpty he’s cut that corner and clipped a car” (I could not see the actual accident from my position as the front of the bus was just out of view round the corner).

I assumed it had hit a car as the crunch was very loud but then someone started screaming so I just ran towards the bus as fast as I could and I shouted to my friend on her bike (who was cycling away in the other direction) to come back and help. I turned the corner and saw a woman right up under the wheel of the bus screaming. I’ve never heard a sound like that before in my life. It wasn’t like the screams in the movies, it was a whole other horrifying sound altogether. I got my phone out and called 999 immediately (I think it was less than 30 seconds from when I heard the crunch to when I started dialling). 

As soon as I got there I was talking to the dispatcher but it was hard to hear because of the screaming, and my friend arrived right behind me so I handed her the phone and told her to talk to the operator and get an ambulance. 

I then knelt down next to the lady, who was squashed up next to the bus wheel and asked her name and where she was hurt. Initiallly it looked like she was right under the wheel of the bus, but then when I got closer you could see she had pulled her legs free.

She was lying on her back with her bum right up against the side of the bus next to the front wheel and was holding her right leg up in the air. Her left leg was also up against the side of the bus as she was at a funny angle with nowhere else to put her leg because there was too much bus in the way. Her shoe had come off in the accident. I could see her bike was completely crushed underneath the bus. I helped to hold her injured leg up for her and she was just screaming and screaming for quite a long time in agony. We tried very hard not to move her and I tried to hold her injured leg as still as I could for her while we waited. My friend was talking to the dispatcher and asked if there was any blood and thankfully I couldn’t see any.

The lady said the bus had hit her as it came round the corner on her side of the road (you could see that he had clearly cut across the corner of the junction and the bus was on the wrong side of the road) and it had rolled over her leg. She wasn’t wearing a helmet so we didn’t know if she had hit her head or not as well.

She said that her leg / foot had definitely been run over but we were not sure if she had any other injuries. 

Another woman put her scarf under her head, and my friend put her coat over her and I told the bystanders to go and block the traffic as lots of idiots were trying to drive past while this was happening, with so many people in the road and someone loudly screaming. Then another bus came up behind us on the same route and even though he could clearly see there had been an accident he tried to get around by driving up onto the pavement which was incredibly dangerous and stupid to squeeze past the accident. Both drivers should be suspended immediately. The driver who hit her was just standing around in shock.

We asked who we could call and she wanted us to call her husband but couldn’t reach her phone on her back and didn’t know the number but she said she worked at the local science center so some kind people from the nearby school who had come out to help called her work and her colleagues came down, then I asked them if they could try to contact her husband. 

A trainee nurse came over and helped as well, and someone nearby brought out blankets and pillows from their house to put over her and under her head. 

I checked the call log and my friend was on my phone with 999 for about 6 minutes from 9am to 9.06am, and I think the first responders arrived about 2-3mins after that, and then the ambulance arrived a few minutes later – by the time the ambulance crew had taken over from me holding her leg up I moved away to call my older daughter who was expecting me home – I made that call at 9.15am so she was in the hands of the ambulance crew within 15 mins of the accident, although it felt a lot longer to me and I bet it did to her too.

When the first responders arrived they asked the bus driver if the handbrake was on on the bus to stop it moving but he didn’t seem to know – he was in shock I think, so we were all shouting at him to check the brake was on while she was still lying up against the wheel of the bus. It was very chaotic. 

The police arrived shortly after the ambulance and I took the photos at that point to make sure the evidence was captured and I informed the police, who also took my details. Although sadly I didn’t see the actual accident I heard it and was there within seconds of it happening.

The police said they would contact me so I could send them my photos but they have not yet done so, (and frankly they took no action after I had a break-in so I have very little faith that they can actually do anything useful), so I reached out to science center directly to make sure the lady and her husband had access to them, and they later emailed me to ask me to send a written statement.

After they moved her I took some pictures of the bus and the bike crushed underneath it, and it was only then that we found her boot, which had been ripped off and was wedged under the bus by the wheel. It’s such a scary photo to look at, just that boot and thinking about where her leg must have been in relation to it.

By the time I came home I was really shaky and full of adrenaline. I had several cups of tea and my neighbour popped over to see how I was. I called a few people to talk it over and told work I needed to take the day off. I had a bath and tried to watch tv but was too twitchy and couldn’t really concentrate. My daughter rides her bike to school past that junction every single day. I couldn’t get that thought out of my head. And I couldn’t get the sound of that woman’s screams out of my head. It was the most peculiar sound I’ve ever heard – it’s NOTHING like screams in the movies.

Another parent from my daughter’s school told me today that her husband was also knocked off his bike by a bus on the same road near that junction a few weeks ago but they feel the police and the bus company haven’t taken much action.

I really hope she is ok – it seemed likely that the damage was only to her leg and that she would survive (which is astonishing as very few people survive after going under the wheels of a bus).

I wrote to the bus company to complain – not just about the driver who cut the corner and almost killed that woman, but also the 2nd driver who drove around it onto the pavement – they should both be suspended immediately.

It’s taken most of the day to calm down and stop feeling so shaky, and I’ve been hugging the kids and telling S to be so careful on her bike about a million times.

Christ what a traumatic day it has been. Just having a large gin and then I’m off to bed.

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