A driver whose bus got stuck in flood water during Storm Frank and whose passengers had to be airlifted to safety has said the bus became an out-of-control boat as it filled with water.
Tudor Davies told his trial at Ayr Sheriff Court yesterday that he ended up trapped in his cab in the bus, covered in glass, after flood water lifted it off the ground and sent it crashing into trees.
Davies, who was sacked following the incident, said he had to stand on his steering wheel for around five hours until he was rescued because the force of the flood water pinned his cab door closed.
Ten adults and two children were 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 flood water.
The men, women and children – who were aged 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, denies driving the Man M2000 18.220 Hocl Stagecoach bus dangerously in Dailly’s Linfern Road on 30 December.
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 last month, passengers said the bus took less than a minute to fill with water which was so high it went up to their chests.
Yesterday Davies said he completely lost control of his bus.
He said he stopped at the edge of the flood water, which was covering a bridge, but saw it was only four or five inches deep and thought he could drive through.
He said: “I always stop to assess before I make any decision.
“I could see the water level through the door – it was way below the level of the bus. Then, all of a sudden, I could see the water level starting to rise.
“The flood was coming up the road towards the bus like a surge of water.
“I tried to stop and tried to steer the bus but the force of the water lifted the bus up. The bus became like a boat.”
Sheriff Mhairi Mactaggart adjourned the case until next month and told Davies she will give her verdict on the next occasion.