And today in news that will make you believe that magic is real, a man who walked into a pub after being hit by a double decker bus in the UK is… pretty much fine. He’s recovering from some injuries, of course, because holy cow, he got hit by a bus and that is terrible — but he’s been discharged from the hospital and is on the mend. All I can say is, bless.
Last Saturday (June 24, for those keeping track) at about 9 a.m., 53-year-old Simon Smith had just finished crossing Gun Street in Reading and stepped back up onto the sidewalk when a number 17 double decker bus careened around the corner, jumped the curb, and struck him. He was thrown a pretty considerable distance, landing in front of a Reading pub known as the Purple Turtle… and then, miraculously, he got up and entered the Purple Turtle as if nothing had happened. Reading Buses has said that it was an “awful incident”; an investigation is ongoing.
Smith had simply been running an errand at the time of collision — something he does every week. “I’d gone to pay in a wage check at my bank,” Smith told The Sun. “I make that journey every Saturday. I didn’t think anything of it. But then I heard some banging behind me and I was hit from behind. Then you can see what happened from the CCTV. The video says it all.”
According to the BBC, the Purple Turtle is one of Reading’s best-known pubs. The video of the incident was captured on the pub’s CCTV, and it’s really wild — not gory, but still pretty shocking, so consider yourselves warned before you watch it. (Not going to lie: I audibly gasped and yelled an obscenity out of sheer surprise and alarm the first time I sat through it.)
Ready? Here it is:
“We are aware that CCTV was been released of the incident that occurred on Gun Street in Reading Town Centre on Saturday, 24 June,” a Reading Buses spokesperson told The Independent. “We are obviously shocked by the incident as well as the very graphic footage that has been shared a number of times. Thankfully, the pedestrian does not have any major injuries and there were no major injuries to passengers on the bus.”
The spokesperson also noted that the collision is being investigated both by Reading Buses and by the police. “The incident is the subject of an ongoing internal investigation as well as an investigation by the police with whom we are working and sharing footage from our onboard CCTV,” they said, adding that it would be “inappropriate for us to comment or speculate on this until it has run its course.” According to the Thames Valley Police, no arrests have been made.
“We can assure the public that all our drivers are incredibly professional and trained to the highest standard,” said Reading Buses’ spokesperson. “Our buses receive regular checks by our award-winning engineering department. We send our regrets to those affected, especially the pedestrian injured in the street and hope that he is recovering from his injuries.”
Although he was able to get up immediately after being hit, Smith didn’t escape the accident totally unscathed. Daniel Fraifield, one of the co-owners of the Purple Turtle, told BBC South Today, “We called Simon a few hours after, the day of the accident, and yeah, he was in a lot of pain. He was still in shock, basically — he couldn’t believe what happened”; additionally, photos published over at The Sun (warning: blood and injuries at the link) show a number of vicious-looking scrapes visible on Smith’s body, particularly on his knees, knuckles, and arms. Still, though — it’s astonishing that he didn’t end up with anything worse. The collision very easily could have killed him, so thank goodness he’s more or less OK.
As the Washington Post noted, Smith did not, in fact, stroll right into the pub and order a pint; if you look at the full video (available at WaPo) a little closer, you can see from the way the passersby interact with him that he sat in the doorway. WaPo pointed out that according to the Purple Turtle’s website, it’s not open at 9 a.m. on Saturdays; Monday through Friday, it opens at 11 a.m., and on weekends, it opens at noon. Indeed, Smith himself told The Sun several days after the incident, “It’s quite funny everybody thinks I have gone for a pint. I was actually looking for a place of refuge when I went into the doorway of the pub.” He did, however, finally get a pint after he’d been released from the hospital.
In the meantime, Smith is being hailed by many Britons as the quintessential example of what it means to be British:
And, you know what? Sometimes, that’s just what we need. Terrible things may be happening all over the place, and our world is frequently horrifying, and a bus coming out of nowhere and hitting pedestrians is one more thing we didn’t even realize we had to worry about — but Simon Smith had that happen to him, and he’s OK, so maybe we’ll be OK, too.