A bus driver who drove into chest-high floodwater during Storm Frank, becoming stranded and necessitating his passengers be airlifted to safety, has been convicted of careless driving.
Tudor Davies, who was sacked by Stagecoach, has been allowed to keep his driving licence.
Ten adults and two children were left trapped on the Stagecoach bus being driven by Davies, 49, in Dailly, Ayrshire, on 30 December last year.
The number 58 bus they were on – which was on a diversion from its usual route between Ayr and Girvan because of the weather – became engulfed by floodwater.
The men, women and children – who were just five and seven – had to stand on top of the handles on the back of the seats for more than three hours before being airlifted to safety by a helicopter.
Davies, of Patna, Ayrshire, denied driving the Stagecoach bus dangerously in Dailly’s Linfern Road on 30 December, 2015.
Prosecutors claim he breached Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 by driving a “public service vehicle in to an area of road which was heavily flooded by water, to the danger of passengers on said public services vehicle”.
Giving evidence at his trial, passengers said the bus took less than a minute to fill with water which was so high it went up to their chests.
Passengers Phyllis Young, 61, said she feared she might die as water poured in to the bus. Ms Young said: “I was watching the water level and thought, ‘if this keeps going we’re basically done for’.”
Fellow Passenger John McNaughton, 70, himself a retired bus driver, added: “The mother of the kids, she was hysterical.
“I can’t seem to get the sound of that and the kids shouting... the mum was shouting, ‘we’re going to die! My kids are going to die.”
Giving evidence in his own defence, Davies insisted he thought it was safe to proceed before his bus turned in to an out-of-control boat.
He explained: “I always stop to assess before I make any decision – the safety of passengers is imperative. I had no doubt that day it was safe for me to proceed.
Sheriff Mhairi Mactaggart ruled that Davies’ driving was reckless, she endorsed his license with nine penalty points and fined him £2,000.