Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Tour bus driver averts disaster


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Tour bus driver of Foster & Ince, Hampden Clarke, does not think he is a hero.

But the 33 tourists he was transporting believe otherwise after Clarke averted disaster when the brakes failed on the bus he was driving as it descended Cleavers Hill in St Joseph yesterday morning at minutes to 11.

“I feel far from a hero . . . . People were injured and the bus finished. How can I feel like a hero?

“Everything was good [before] but when I got by the hill, that’s when the brake failed, so I basically tried to get the bus stop,” he said as he explained how he struck a wall to slow it down.

The experience left the 45-year-old in tears, as visitors Frank and Cathryn Luciano hugged him and thanked him for saving their lives. An infant and an eight-year-old were also on board.

The tourists were passengers aboard the Freedom Of The Sea cruise liner and were on the tour, which began on the West Coast and stopped at Cherry Tree Hill and Farley Hill.

All of the passengers who spoke called Clarke, who has ten years experience as a driver, a hero.

Robert Glover, 73, of the United States told the Weekend Nation: “It happened that the brakes gave away. The driver was just trying to stop it.

“There was no driver error. He did the right thing. Us in the back just started smelling stuff.”

 Fifty-one year-old Lauran Glover said that compared to what could have happened, she is happy to be alive. She praised Clarke and tour guide Allison Trotman-Edwards for their quick thinking and professionalism.

Trotman-Edwards said she was a little shaken but otherwise okay.

Bathsheba resident Amaal Alleyne said when she heard the bus coming down the hill she knew something was different and went to the assistance of the passengers.

Chief executive officer of Foster & Ince Cruise Services, Martin Ince, thanked his employees and commended the “phenomenal” response of police and emergency services.   

He visited the scene and thanked by-standers who assisted after the incident. He added that although social media reports spoke of a mass casualty, only two people were taken away by ambulance while the other injuries were minor.

Police confirmed the incident and said investigations were being carried out. (KG)


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