Saturday 23 March 2019

Heroes halt bus hijack

Shane Hickey

TWO friends stopped a violent attack on a bus driver and safely brought to an end a hijack attempt on the vehicle.

The extraordinary events unfolded in Dublin city centre on Saturday night after a man and a woman demanded to be let off the bus before its next stop.

After the driver told them to wait he was spat at. When he stopped the bus and left his cabin to go and contact gardai he was viciously attacked as the row spilled onto the street.

But after two students intervened, one of the attackers got into the driver's seat and drove off before abandoning the bus while it was still moving, with terrified passengers still on board.

Matthew Carpenter and Karl Ussher, both 20 and from Tallaght were on the 56A bus travelling into the city centre on Saturday night when the incident occurred.

The two students halted the assault on the driver but one of the attackers jumped back on the bus and drove off.

The friends followed the bus on foot and jumped on board after the hijacker abandoned it while it was still moving. They managed to stop the vehicle before any serious damage was done.

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, the pair said they had been on their way into town from Tallaght when they heard shouting downstairs.

A male and a female passenger were screaming at the Chinese driver that they wanted to get off in the Cork street area. During the row they spat in his face.

"We were upstairs on the bus and we heard shouting downstairs. I thought that this happens on buses all the time but it continued outside," said Mr Carpenter, a student at Ballyfermot College.

"I looked out and could see the bus driver being pulled around and digs put into him. Myself and Karl pulled them apart and the bus driver shouted to ring the gardai."

After the fight was broken up, the attacker jumped onto the double-decker and drove between 30 and 40 yards at a low speed down the road, in the direction of the city centre.


He then jumped off, leaving the bus without a driver while it was still moving and passengers still on board.

"The two of us went after the bus, he (the attacker) got out after a short distance and I jumped up and got in the seat, pulled the bus over and put on the brake, then it was just a matter of seconds before the guards were there," said Mr Ussher, who studies psychology in Dublin Business School (DBS).

"I had a look around the cabin first, I wasn't sure what to press. There were loads of buttons but I hit the footbrake and then I was a while trying to find the handbrake.

"The bus itself is automatic, so I had to stick it in neutral. I was looking for the handbrake everywhere and then saw some medieval thing on the wall that I had to get to -- it was a fairly old bus."

There were three other people on the bus, apart from the attackers, during the incident -- one of whom was a woman in her 70s.

"She was about to jump off when the bus slowed down," said Mr Carpenter.

A number of gardai arrived at the scene shortly after Mr Ussher brought the bus under control and arrested the attacker, who had headed back in the direction of the injured driver after abandoning the vehicle.

The driver, who has been working for Dublin Bus for just 18 months, was brought to hospital where he was treated for bruising to his face and two broken bones in his hand.

He is said to be severely traumatised as a result of the vicious attack.

After making statements to gardai, Mr Ussher and Mr Carpenter went into town to resume their night out.

"When the gardai arrived I was joking that they couldn't do me for driving on a provisional," said Mr Ussher.

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