A GOOD Samaritan dad from Hucknall helped to rescue teenagers from potential tragedy — after the driver of their coach collapsed at the wheel in a motorway drama.
Mark Woodings was driving his own bus along the M1 when he spotted the coach lose control and swerve dangerously between lanes ahead of him on Saturday March 17.
The coach eventually pulled on to the hard shoulder. But as Mr Woodings approached, he saw a group of 25 youngsters and a handful of adults standing on the embankment in a distressed and dazed state.
As other drivers ignored their plight and shot by, he decided to go to their aid.
Mr Woodings, who works for Hucknall-based firm Robin Hood Travel, pulled over and offered to ferry the group to the nearest services.
It later emerged that the driver of the out-of-control coach had lost consciousness. A quick-thinking female passenger grabbed the wheel and helped guide the coach to safety on the hard shoulder.
The remarkable near-miss came just days after a coach crashed in Switzerland, killing 28 passengers.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” said Mr Woodings (47), of Polperro Way.
“It was a miracle that the coach didn’t crash in the first place.
“I couldn’t drive past and leave them there, so I decided to pull over and help. The first thing on my mind was to get those teenagers off the motorway. That is no place for anyone on a busy Saturday afternoon.”
The vehicle that swerved out of control was from Stanley Coaches in Sunderland. Its driver, who is in his 60s, has more than 20 years of experience.
The passengers were members of the Team Northumbria netball superleague team who were heading to a match against Loughborough Lightning in Leicestershire.
The woman who grabbed the steering wheel was one of the team’s coaches.
An ambulance was called for the driver, who spent the night in hospital. It has not been disclosed why he lost consciousness.
Mr Woodings took the group to the Trowell service station further down the M1.
“The woman who managed to bring the coach under control was hysterical,” said Mr Woodings, who is a former taxi-driver and has a nine-year-old daughter, Georgia.
“They didn’t know what day of the week it was. When we got to the services, they were all very grateful. They were kissing me and thanking me.
“It is frightening to think what might have happened. Had the woman been asleep or not in that seat, the outcome could have been very serious. Lives could have been lost.”
Mr Woodings has received calls from passengers and the owner of Stanley Coaches to thank him for his actions.
Chris Allen, the joint owner of Robin Hood Travel, on Wigwam Lane. said: “I think this is something that comes naturally with our staff. Mark’s instincts kicked in.
“With the coach-disaster in Switzerland still fresh in our minds, I’m delighted with his efforts. It is very nice to get thanks from those he helped.”