Thief stole takings while Blackpool bus driver was saving a man's life

There are not many stories that can have both an act of heroism and craven selfishness in them, but a recent incident in Blackpool has just that.

Monday, 18th March 2019, 9:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 7:13 am
Bus driver Kath Smith, left, and the man helping himself to the cash, right

A Blackpool Transport bus driver was on her number three route to Mereside and had just turned onto Cherry Tree Road from Penrose Avenue shortly before 10.30am last Tuesday.

Kath Smith, 58, then spotted a man lying in a pool of water beside the road on Coral Close.

The man was having a seizure and was having trouble keeping his head above the large puddle, caused by the heavy rainfall from Storm Gareth.

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Bus driver Kath Smith, left, and the man helping himself to the cash, right

Kath, who lives in Grange Park, immediately knew she had to do something, so she stopped her bus to go and help the man, letting her passengers know of the incident.

Kath doesn’t hesitate to assist the man lying in the water, which is at least ankle deep, in resting him on his side to avoid him being face down. She is captured on CCTV on her knees, assisting the person in keeping their head above and away from the water.

However, seconds after Kath had made it over to the stricken man, a cold-hearted crook went and helped himself to money from the bus’ cash till and made off with £40 in banknotes.

Kath said it was an instant reaction for her and added: “I feel I did what anyone else would have done in that situation. Even though I am driving a bus and I’m working, it doesn’t stop me having compassion for another human.

Driver Kath Smith

“I just wanted to make sure his head was out of the puddle because it was quite deep.”

Luckily, a passing police van spotted Kath and the collapsed man and they arranged for an ambulance. A spokesman for Blackpool Transport said the police remarked that without the help of Kath, the pedestrian could have been in serious trouble.

Unfortunately the thief’s actions went unnoticed until the day after when Kath went to cash up her till and realised £40 was missing. At first, she thought she had lost the banknotes but after CCTV of the incident was viewed, it was clear the thief was captured on camera. Police were informed of the theft shortly after and their enquiries are still ongoing.

Kath has been praised by her colleagues at Blackpool Transport for her act of heroism. She was presented with a bouquet of flowers by staff at the company on Saturday after returning from a two-day lieu.

The man helps himself

Kath said: “I don’t like all the attention but it is nice to receive recognition from the company itself.”

Sally Shaw, director of people and stakeholders at the transport company said: “We have a lot of commendations for our drivers but having watched the CCTV and the simply selfless act of helping a member of the public, we needed to recognise that Kath had gone above and beyond her daily duty. We are very, very proud of her.”

Mandy Davies, head of operations for Blackpool Transport said: “Kath is one in a million. It can sometimes be a tough job as a bus driver and it’s a brilliant thing she has done and perhaps even saved someone’s life.”

A North West Ambulance Service spokesman confirmed they attended the incident shortly after 10.30am on March 12. They said: “An ambulance was sent to assist a man in his mid 20’s who had collapsed beside the road on Cherry Tree Road. When the crew arrived the man was awake and he was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital to be checked over.”

From left, Sally Shaw, director of people and stakeholders from Blackpool Transport, Kath Smith, and Mandy Davies


Lancashire Police said no arrests have been made in connection to the theft and its enquires are still ongoing. A spokesman for the force said: “The incident happened on Coral Close on March 12 just before 10.30am where money has been stolen from the cab of a bus whilst the driver was assisting a collapsed male at the side of the road.”Anyone with information should call 101 and quote the reference LC-2019-0314-0282.