“People Were Screaming Kids Were On Board”

March 11, 2015

A witness has described the terrifying moments right after the bus collision today [Mar 11], saying he heard people screaming from the bus that there were kids on board as smoke was emanating and sparking wires were on the bus, with those on the bus starting to hand the children out the window to ensure their safety.

At around 11.40am today, a bus crashed into parked cars on East Broadway, resulting in eight people being injured, including two visitors to Bermuda and a small number of children.

All the injured people were treated at the hospital, however fortunately all of them had minor injuries, and none of them required admission to the hospital.

In addition to damaging at least three parked vehicles, the bus also damaged a utility pole, resulting in approximately 40 customers having their power knocked out.


In describing the moments after the collision, Richard Jennings said, “I was going to a meeting a little before lunch – around 11.30am I left to walk to the other office – and I was walking down Front Street past the gas station. That’s where I was when it all began.

“I had my headphones on, so I wasn’t able to hear to hear the crash, but I saw off in the distance that something happened and all of a sudden, about a second later, things started falling right in front of me from the telephone poles; wires started swinging past me and what I imagine was transformers, or some type of box on the poles actually started falling right in front of me.

“I didn’t know what happened at first; I thought maybe it was an earthquake, because I was probably a good 100 or 150 feet from the bus.

“I started running because of these wires, and I could, even despite my headphones, hear the electricity going off all around me, so my first inclination was just to get away from these wires.

“As I started running, about 50 feet in front of me, I saw the bus. It was just horrible to see. It had just happened, so there was still smoke coming up and all that.

“It’s hard to remember exactly what I was thinking at the time, but I heard people screaming from the bus – that’s the first thing I remember. They were screaming that there were kids on board.

“That’s the one phrase that I remember in my head,” added Mr Jennings.

“So I immediately started going towards the bus, which was covered in wires – the pole was actually on top of the bus at that point. There was wires just everywhere going off.

“Someone actually yelled at me, ‘don’t go near it, don’t go near it,’ but once I heard that there was people in there, all I could think off is I don’t know if there’s gasoline leaking – if there’s a transformer sparking on top of it, this bus goes up in flames.

“I just couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do something,” added Mr. Jennings.

“The bus door was actually pinned against the building, so they couldn’t get out the door – I saw that immediately. So I started trying to get the windows down.

“I’m 6’3″, but the windows were even above my head and we could only get them down about halfway; someone on the bus was able to get one of the windows down about three quarters of the way, but it was on the damaged side of the bus, which means I actually had to go through the wires behind the bus.”

“I had to maneuver my way through the sparking wires to get to the other side, which was pretty crazy. And then they just started handing me children. Luckily I was tall enough to actually grab the children.

“As soon as I started grabbing them – they were about four or five-years-old – and putting them on the ground, they started taking off running straight towards the wire, so I’m holding two kids in one arm – they’re four, how do you explain to them what’s going on – and taking kids off with my other arm.

“Luckily they were light. Eventually, one other guy did come and I started handing him the kids and telling him, ‘bring them to safety.’ So we got all the kids off initially – there was about 15 kids.

“By the time we got them off, people had come to help – we had about six or seven guys over there at one point. Luckily, because once the older people started trying to get through the window, I don’t know how I would have done it by myself.

“There were some elderly people on the bus – it wasn’t even the weight of holding them, it was actually getting them through the window; they just couldn’t get through it.

“So the people inside the bus actually started to help picking their legs up and putting them through the window and we would catch them on the other side.

“This whole time, wires are swinging by our heads – there was a wire probably about a foot above the window where I had to hold people’s heads down because if they sprung up when they went through the window, it would have gotten them.

“There was probably about 25 people total on the bus – 15 kids, I would say, and 10 older people. I wasn’t the only one there – it was a group effort, definitely, for the whole community.

“A lot of them had bloody mouths – I guess when the bus hit, they must have lunged forward and hit the seat. As soon as I got them out of the bus, they just wanted to run as far away from it as they possibly could. Except for this one kid – this one kid acted like it was no big deal.

“I put him on the ground and said, ‘stay against the wall and don’t go near wires,’ and he was like, ‘I’m good, I’m fine.’

“I was like, ‘that’s a pretty cool kid.’

“They [the adults on the bus] were mostly concerned about the children. You have to understand that we took the children off first and, because of the situation, I’m just handing their children to strangers, who were then taking them away from the scene, probably across the street.

“So the parents were trying to quickly get through the window and just asking, ‘where is my kid, where is my kid?’

“I didn’t have answers for them; I was just trying to get people out – I was just really worried the bus was going to go on fire.

“My primary focus was getting people off, of course, but I could tell, despite that they were panicked and scared, that nobody was injured to a point that they couldn’t get to the window.

“Nobody needed to be carried to the window. I knew that no one was paralyzed or anything like that.

“The bus driver wouldn’t come off the bus. I tried to reason with her, I tried to tell her that she had to get off immediately, but she didn’t want to come out.”

When asked if he felt that people went out of their way to help, he said, “I’m the only one who initially ran to the window, until that other gentleman joined me – I wish I knew his name.

“I think once they saw that we were over there, more people started to come – especially, I think, once we started pulling young children off the bus. But there was definitely a couple more people that saw it that preferred to call the police.

“The whole thing was so crazy – I couldn’t even tell you how long I was there. Everyone came out pretty quickly, except two or three of the older people who really had to be helped, but we got about 15 kids out in probably two minutes.

“I can’t even begin to tell you if they [emergency responders] got there quick enough. I know when we were finished, the police had not gotten there yet.

“I was there just to pull people out and as soon as the people were out, I went back to work – I didn’t wait around. I just wanted to make sure people were safe.”

When asked if he had any words of encouragement for people who find themselves in a similar situation, he said, “There’s people out there who will help.

“Sometimes you walk the streets and you walk by people and you don’t realize how great they are, but something like this, today, really shows that there are people out there that care more about others than they do about themselves.”

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Category: Accidents and fires, All, News

Comments (35)

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  1. Herb says:

    WOW, now there’s a contender for getting a bravery award this year.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      To think that he ran to help despite (not knowing ) the status of the electrical power lines is just mind boggling.

      Bravery award ? Yes !

      But lots of thanks to all who assisted .

    • jane says:

      i was there today and was traveling into town, I was on the opposite side of the road at the time. It was a very scary experience for all involved. My immediate response was to call emergency services as sparks were coming off the top of the bus from the the over head wires. Fair play to the guys who actually got the people out. It was a very stressful and difficult situation. A lot of the public and services were fantastic. Also noted Belco got there very quickly.

  2. somuchless says:

    Thank you to everyone who helped. There are still caring people out there.

  3. Dave says:

    What a brave man, yes for sure he should get a bravery award.. he was at the right place at the right time…

  4. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    we all know what happened…sorry but the parking in front of great things needs to be discontinued…considering they do have a parking lot. That particular spot has to be the narrowest 3 lane throughway in the world, let alone the horrendous asphalt job on the west bound lane forcing motorists to veer more to the right causing a domino effect…oh well…

  5. justice for all says:

    Sigh……..Another bus out

  6. Terry says:

    Who puts a 4 year old on a bus.
    Were the guardians aboard?

    • Bernews says:

      @Terry, they weren’t traveling alone…see the story above we just posted, there were nine preschoolers on the bus as they were traveling from an art show with their teacher, who was also commended for her actions to ensure her students safety.

      • Me says:

        My Daughter was at Warwick Preschool last year, and yes they quite often took the bus for school visits and trips, it is no less dangerous than putting them in parent’s cars, it is just an unfortunate accident and I commend both their teacher and the passers by who safely got them all to safety – ps OMG I would not have liked to be that teacher at that time – well done xxx

    • drunken ursula says:

      what a clown

  7. Young Citizen says:

    Its always good to hear no one was seriously hurt or killed, but, we all have to acknowledge that a lot (but not all) of our bus drivers are a bit careless on the roads. They act as if they own the roads and will pull out of a bus stop when traffic is still coming, granted they have the right of way, but to be hard headed and just pull out can cause accidents. They need to slow down for one thing, that car looks crushed, had to have been going faster than 45km/h. I believe there is plenty of room on that specific road to avoid the parked cars in front of ‘Great Things’. I just feel that we have to look to the bus drivers for these kind of things and question their carelessness especially with kids on the bus. I have had busses FLY past me going at least 60+ over the yellow line on the opposing side they should be on. Im not going to argue with any comments about my post i’m just stating what i believe, that being said i repeat not all bus drivers are like this, some are very good drivers and deserve to be commended for their safety.

    • drunken ursula says:

      the buses are governed down they can go pass 50

      • reefs says:

        “the buses are governed down they can go pass 50″

        Does this actually make sense to you?

      • Young Citizen says:

        Then that makes them above the law which is wrong. I’ve had friends get tickets for 50km/h. The busses are too big to be going any speed an excess of 45km/h. Our roads are too small and the bus drivers know it and government knows it and that “law” if it even is a law, needs to be amended and fixed to slow them down and should a bus be travelling faster than 50km/h they should be ticketed just like the rest of us. This is unsafe and unfair to everyone not just other drivers but pedestrians and parked vehicles alike.

      • Nonsense says:

        That’s not true, they regularly are doing 60 as I’m (illegally, Ill admit) following them on my bike.

    • Colin says:

      YES you are right. Yesterday, the bus driver skipped my stop, even when pushing the stop button well ahead. When the kid sitting next to me alerted the driver, the driver just SLAMMED THE BRAKES, not giving a hoot about the car behind us. I’m guessing it was a new driver. Another time on the 7 bus, the driver was going so fast, he almost forgot to turn onto the road leading to the hospital which would have caused a ton of trouble for the driver. Also on the 7 bus, a lady just got on to the bus as it was leaving, and the driver slammed the gas pedal, causing the woman to fall over onto people. Driver didn’t even apologize. Point is, these people go really fast and act very careless!

      • filobedo21 says:

        And did anyone bother to report this driver. Sickening, that people love to relate these occurrences but not report them. PTB needs to know so they can be dealt with.

  8. OD says:

    If the wires had been live, first responders could have been seriously injured. So it’s prudent to assess where the wires are and not injure yourself. I heard someone yell to be careful of the wires and agree with that. The bus was not going to go up in flames because the gas tank is in the back and was not damaged at all. This isn’t the movies.

    I hope that Mr. Jennings doesn’t mean to denigrate the work of others at the scene with his comment that “eventually, one other guy did come”. Within 30 seconds of the accident (which I saw), there were a number of people on the scene making sure they could get to the bus safely. Also there were quickly at least a half-dozen people trying to force open windows on the opposite side and bringing fire extinguishers and first aid kits. Unfortunately none of the windows would open on that side, though people tried until the operator was on the only one left on the bus, and she refused to get off.

    • jane says:

      this is totally the situation i was in to i approach or phone emergency services. The sparks were crazy. Always assess danger of the area first.

      • jane says:

        i think also at first it was difficult to see how many people were on the bus because the windows are tinted.

  9. Ohno says:

    A bravery award for sure!
    Is there no emergency exit on these buses…….there should be!

    • OD says:

      Supposedly the back windows are an emergency exit, but the emergency exits aren’t labeled on the outside, nor are there instructions outside on how to get it open. The kids were too young to read the instructions inside, and the operator was dazed. People had tools to smash the windows if needed but didn’t want to injure anyone on board with flying glass when there was another window open.

  10. Me says:

    I am sure every one of those parents is eternally grateful to you, and I agree Herb I hope he gets a bravery award from the Queen xxx

  11. Onion Seed says:

    OMG what was coming in the opposite direction? All must be traumatised, as opposed to yesterday’s fender bender in the same area.
    Hugs your family members while telling you love them. Why the driver took such diversive action will no doube revealed in due course.
    Hugs to all.

  12. Sickofantz says:

    What can we do to ensure that this driver, never drives on our roads again?

    • common sense says:

      Have a heart Sickofants, you concluded it wasn’t the bakes or brake fluid, sickness or anything but just pass judgement without being heard. I don’t know who the driver is but when you have your turn in this predicament remember your own comments

  13. Colin says:

    Whenever we went to great things, my mom always told me to not stay in the car because she recollects that she was involved in an accident similar to this. I told her “Yeah like anything like that will happen to me, SURE!” Now, a bus smashes into a car right next to great things. Moral of the story, LISTEN TO YA MOMMA!

  14. Im bk says:

    I applaud this guy man, takes heart to do that, a lot of people would minded their business.

  15. Bermudian says:

    Hope for humanity!!!

  16. ella says:

    Richard Jennings – you are definitely one of GOD’s angels. You were the one to start the ‘train reaction’.
    Bless you!!!

  17. Justy a matter of time says:

    Whew! This could have been a lot worse between the sparks, bus fumes and a gas station nearby. Thank God the injuries were not any worse and thanks to all those that helped! Great job.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Oh puhleeze! Save the drama. You can throw matches into diesel all day & it won’t ignite. The gas station is a long way away. Yes there was danger from the live wires. How hazzardous were they really.

      Nobody was seriously hurt. It was more than a fender bender but not any catastrophy that some would have it.

  18. No! No! says:

    I just want to say Thank You to Mr. Jennings for assisting the REST of the public in helping the passengers off the bus, but I would also like to Thank many other people who assisted and deserve to be recognized like the Marine & Ports guys, the Gas Station guys and especially The Renaissance Re Staff who housed all the passengers,comforted them and called the parents of the children with the assistance of their teacher. Renaissance staff members were extremely helpful in every way and I think Mr. Jennings needs to adjust a few things he said because there were far too many I’s in his report. The one thing we all know about most Bermudians is that if something major happens we come together as a community and that is what I saw. I saw Mr. Jennings report and video and I was also there from the beginning but some of his remarks were a bit over exaggerated.