Northern Ireland

Londonderry bus driver applauded for helping man off bridge

Ronan Ward
Image caption Ronan was on his way to Dublin when he spotted the man in distress

A Londonderry bus driver who stopped to help save a man's life has said the incident should make people more aware of others in distress.

Ronan Ward was en route to Dublin on Saturday morning when he saw a "distressed" man climbing on to a bridge in Strabane, County Tyrone.

Mr Ward, along with at least two others, managed to talk the man down.

"He was in the process of trying to climb railings. I immediately stopped the bus and ran over," Mr Ward said.

"I was trying to encourage him to come back over the railings, get on the other side and maybe come up and chat to me on the bus.

"I was saying: 'Look, I'm driving to Dublin. Come to Dublin with me'."

"He was quite distressed and I was trying everything to get him to work with me. He was in a very bad state mentally, he told me he was badly depressed.

"The whole thing probably took about 15 or 20 minutes, so when I got back on the bus I was quite shaken, not from the incident but from the adrenaline."

Image caption Passengers on board the Translink service applauded Mr Ward as he returned to the bus

Joseph Carlin was a passenger on board the 07:00 GMT bus service from Derry to Dublin and witnessed the incident.

The 32-year-old musician, from Derry, told BBC News NI that there were between 14-18 passengers on board.

He said that no-one was quite sure what was going on but "no-one was kicking up a fuss".

"I thought there was a problem with the bus, and another bus pulled up in front of ours, so I thought that was for us."

'Overwhelmed'

After about 15 minutes, the driver got back on the bus and apologised for "holding everyone back".

"Someone began applauding and the whole bus then joined in," Mr Carlin said.

"I heard the driver say he was still shaking. He was completely taken aback by the whole experience."

Mr Carlin, who was on his way to Tipperary, said he tweeted Translink because he wanted to let the company know the "calibre of staff they have".

"I wanted to make sure he was acknowledged for the amazing thing he did," he said. "It was impulsive, incredible and inspiring".

Mr Ward said he was slightly overwhelmed by the attention he has received.

"It's quite nice to feel appreciated but most of all it's about making people more aware," he said.

"Some person might be driving across the bridge sometime and instead of driving on past, maybe they'll actually stop and try to help somebody out."

A Translink spokeswoman confirmed that Mr Ward went to the assistance of a "vulnerable person" whom he "perceived to be in difficulty".

A spokesman for the Ambulance Service said a call was received from the police about an incident on a bridge in Strabane but they were stood down on the way to the scene.

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