Mum praises hero bus driver for saving her daughter’s life

Eliza Watson, 3 and mother Kirsti McCoy.
Eliza Watson, 3 and mother Kirsti McCoy.

A grateful mum has thanked the quick-thinking bus driver who saved her daughter’s life after she suffered an asthma attack.

Kirsti McCoy had boarded the number 99 bus at Hylton Castle retail park along with her two-year-old daughter Eliza Watson, but within minutes of taking her seat, she realised her daughter had stopped breathing.

Steven Tomkins saved toddler Eliza Watson on board his bus.

Steven Tomkins saved toddler Eliza Watson on board his bus.

“We got on the bus next to the Aldi by the retail park and we must have been on the bus a matter of seconds when I looked down at her and said to my friend that Eliza was acting really strange,” Kirsti, from Ravenswood Road, Sunderland said.

“I looked at her again and realised she wasn’t breathing.

“I just started screaming and an older woman on the bus ran down and told the driver.

“I was just screaming ‘stop the bus’ and the bus driver pulled over and rang an ambulance.”

Eliza Watson

Eliza Watson

Newly-qualified driver Steven Tomkins sprang into action and managed to find the youngster’s inhaler and attempted to resuscitate her.

The 55-year-old also tried to keep the panicked mum calm until the ambulance arrived to take them to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Kirsti, 27, continued: “I was panicking and was dragging her out of the pushchair, but he stopped me and said I would hurt her.

“He managed to get her inhaler from the push chair and started giving her it.

“She managed to come round a bit, but was still going in and out of consciousness.

“While on the phone he was checking her pulse and massaging her chest.
“He was also keeping me calm, as I was very irate.

“I was screaming because it was so horrific and I didn’t know what to do, but he was really calm throughout.
“I am so glad he was there, as doctors said that if she had stopped breathing for 15 to 30 seconds longer she could have been brain damaged.”

After his heroics in March, dad and grandad-of-two Mr Tomkins, from Gaskell Avenue, South Shields, was presented with an award along with three other bus drivers from Go North East, who had gone ‘above and beyond’ to help members of the public.

He was one of several staff to be awarded a ‘Special Commendation’ accolade at Go North East’s recent employee awards ceremony.

Kirsti added: “He was just an ordinary bus driver but he saved her. He literally saved her life.

“I owe my life to him and would love nothing better than for him to realise how special he is to us.
“I would love Eliza to meet him one day.”