Security guard hailed as hero after saving Sunderland grandma following mobility scooter breakdown

Gary Underwood came to the aid of Carol McDonald after her scooter and phone had run out of charge.
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A security guard has been hailed as a local hero after saving a grandma from Sunderland after her mobility scooter broke down on a busy road.

60-year-old Gary Underwood, who has worked as a security guard at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) headquarters for over two decades, came to the aid of Carol McDonald last month, after both her mobility scooter and phone had run out of charge. #

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The incident occurred on Sunday, April 23 in the evening, just as Gary was beginning his usual nightshift at the TWFRS training centre in Barmston Mere.

After a fellow colleague raised the alarm after noticing Carol was in distress after her mobility scooter broke down on Nissan Way, just off the A1231, Gary went to rescue the 49-year-old woman.

He then brought Carol back into the TWFRS site, where he put the mobility scooter on charge, and arranged for her to call her family to be collected and taken home.

This week, the pair reunited in Washington to meet with Deputy Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath to recount their experience of the incident.

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Gary, who is originally from Jarrow and works for the Support Services Group (SSG) said: “It can be a very busy road – I just wanted to make sure she [Carol] was safe”.

“We were doing our security shift handover when someone mentioned a lady on a mobility scooter was seen to be upset near to the building’s back gates. So I immediately went out to see if I could help in any way.

When I got to Carol she was understandably distressed and panicking. She explained that she’d become lost and disoriented after taking a wrong turn.

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“Both her scooter and mobile phone had subsequently run out of charge at the same time so she couldn’t call her family for help and was stranded at the side of the road.”

“I was thankful that everything worked out in the end, as Carol is a nice lady who spoke fondly of her children and grandchildren.  I was glad to help in any way that I could, and to see that the incident had a happy ending.”

Carol from Sunderland was full of praise for Gary, as she said:  “If it wasn’t for Gary I don’t know what could’ve happened to me!”

“I didn’t know what to do when the scooter ran out of charge after I’d taken a wrong turn.  To be honest I started to panic when I realised I couldn’t contact my family as my mobile phone had also died.

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“I was really upset as I didn’t know what to do.  It was freezing by the roadside as the evening had started to settle in.  Fortunately a couple of motorists had stopped to ask if I was okay, and it was one of them who kindly notified Gary.

“It was a definite sense of relief when Gary came over to help me as I didn’t know how I was going to get out of the worrying situation.

“In this day-and-age it’s lovely to know that people like Gary are still out there who care for others and are willing to go over and above the call of duty.”