A HERO driver steered his packed coach to safety after suffering a heart attack at the wheel – and then had his life saved by a top football physio who was driving past.
Steven Smith was transporting Dunfermline Athletic FC supporters home when he started getting chest pains on the A701 between Dumfries and Moffat on Saturday.
The 47-year-old from Dunfermline, Fife started losing consciousness after suffering tunnel vision and getting pains up his jaw at the wheel.
But the quick-thinking driver managed to prevent a fatal disaster by steering his Bay Travel coach away from a steep drop and even indicating before crashing into a stone wall.
And in another twist of fate, the physio for supporters football team was travelling the same route and spotted the 49-seat vehicle crash – prompting him to jump out to help with a defibrillator and oxygen mask.
The heroic medic managed to keep Steven conscious for an hour using the life-saving machine and oxygen equipment until an ambulance arrived.
The lucky driver was taken to Golden Jubilee Hospital and then Victoria Hospital for treatment before returning back home on Tuesday.
Speaking today, he said: “I picked up the supporters about 8am on Saturday morning to drop them off in Dumfries so parked up after in an area along with another Bay Travel coach and some Rennies coaches.
“I was feeling fine all day and at about 5pm we went back to pick up the supporters. I got the folk on the bus and it was only after about ten minutes driving I started feeling chest pain.
“Very quickly it spread up into my jaw and my vision started going so I put on the indicator, started slowing down the bus by braking to get the speed down.
“The next thing I know I wake up and had been unconscious. I had an oxygen mask on and Kenny had used a defibrillator.
“The first person I seen when I woke up was Marc Thomson who works for Rennies Coaches.
He was absolutely brilliant and was keeping me awake asking me questions like ‘So are you going on holiday this year’ etc.
“It took about an hour before an ambulance came and I was stuck in the driver’s seat still having a heart attack the whole time. The pain didn’t leave so I was in severe pain.”
“The thing is I was the last bus to leave but because it was such a small street the police came and put me to the front of the other buses so I was really lucky that they were behind me and seen the crash to come and help.
“The one thing I remember in my head is hearing Kenny saying ‘You’re not going anywhere, we’re going to have a pint after’.”
Steven returned home on Tuesday after staff at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank, Glasgow released a blockage in one of his arteries.
Steven added: “As soon as they removed that I was fine. I could’ve danced on the tables, I felt that much better straight away.
“I had an MRI scan and my heart is completely fine. I’m just signed off now to recover and can’t drive for four weeks or drive a coach for six weeks and will have to resit my test to get back on the coach again.
“Marc and Kenny are the real heroes here, I was just using my natural instinct.”
Rennies Coach driver Marc Thomson, 44, from Rosyth, Fife, who was driving behind Steven and performed CPR on him said today: “Steve had actually left five to ten minutes before me so I was a bit behind him.
“As I came around the corner I seen his coach at the side of the road and he was slumped behind the wheel.
“I ran over from my bus to his and seen everyone crowding him so I just said ‘right everyone, off the bus now’.
“He wasn’t breathing and I couldn’t find a pulse. He was too heavy to move so I had to just adjust his seat back and then started giving him breath to breath.
“At one point he actually bit my lip and on the fifth breath to breath he was turning blue.
“The thing is you’ve got to remain calm in these things. We were monitoring his pulse and it just kept dropping then.
“We were just trying to keep him conscious from there. At one point I shouted at him because he was dozing off.
“The ambulance took about 50 minutes to come. I was disgusted by that. At one point I thought ‘if the ambulance takes any longer, he’s not gonna make it’ and he wouldn’t have if they had been longer. It was pretty scary.”
Kenny, who has worked for Dunfermline Athletic FC for the past six years told a local newspaper today: “It probably couldn’t have happened in a worse place.
“Trying to get an ambulance was a problem because nobody had local knowledge of where we were and even when the police turned up they struggled to get a signal on their radios.
“I knew he was in a bit of trouble and that we needed an ambulance as soon as. I was frantically chucking kit about to find the defibrillator and oxygen.
“We were doing everything we could to keep him going.
“The driver of the other bus remained remarkably calm and was brilliant help.
“It was pretty scary. Looking back, had he gone the other way with the coach it would’ve been catastrophic.
“There was a steep drop and he did remarkably well to put the bus where he did.”
He was hailed as a hero back in 2015 after saving the life of a Peterhead supporter who suffered a cardiac arrest shortly before a match.
He was a footballer for 15 years with Rangers, Blackburn and Dundee but hung up his boots to embark on a career in sports physiotherapy.