Blind woman abandoned in snow on journey home

W11974H13 WH BUS IN SNOW PIC S.G. 13.03.014''Mary Gullick had to leave bus at Lancing in the snow
W11974H13 WH BUS IN SNOW PIC S.G. 13.03.014''Mary Gullick had to leave bus at Lancing in the snow

A BLIND woman left stranded after being forced to leave a bus at Lancing along with other passengers caught in Monday evening’s snow, has spoken of her ordeal.

Mary Gullick, a retired nurse, was left distressed by a Stagecoach driver, who told her he could not complete his journey to Brighton due to severe road conditions taking him over his shift time.

Thankfully, fellow passenger Luke Thacker and a kind-hearted taxi driver came to her aid and ensured she made it home safely.

In response, Stagecoach has pledged to launch a full investigation into the incident, which left regional managing director of the firm Andrew Dyer appalled.

He said the company had a duty of care to its passengers that had to be maintained.

The Herald has been contacted by a number of other readers caught in snowy conditions which caused widespread travel misery.

Drivers faced journey times of more than 10 hours across the county, with West Sussex facing the coldest March conditions for decades.

Many motorists perceived a lack of gritting on key roads as being a major problem.

This was refuted by the county council, which stated its gritters had, in fact, been out constantly on Monday.

Mary Gullick, who is registered blind, praised the assistance of the Herald’s Luke Thacker, who along with Simon Cassidy of Shoreham Airport Taxis, ensured she reached home after a horrendous bus journey.

The 64-year-old former nurse, of Chapel Road, Fishersgate, explained she tried to take a Stagecoach bus from Worthing Leisure Centre. But after more than two hours stuck in traffic, she was told by its driver that passengers all had to get off the bus at Lancing station, as his driving shift had finished.

She said: “I was shivering and weeping at the time I was told we had to get off. The driver just said me there were signs to the station and that I should have just followed everyone else. But I am registered blind and am unable to read signs unless they are huge.

“I asked the driver if he would do this if it were a mother and young child? He replied that he was just following company orders. But I would like to thank Luke and Simon who helped me get home, they were wonderful.”

Managing director of Stagecoach south, Andrew Dyer, was “appalled” and offered an apology in addition to an investigation.

Another motorist, Simon Fuller, who works in Worthing, faced considerable road difficulties on Monday evening while driving through gridlocked conditions in Sompting.

He said: “I would like to thank the four men in black hoodies who helped me on my way during the awful snow. I had got to Hill Barn traffic lights at Sompting an hour after leaving Worthing town centre on my way to Burgess Hill. Cars were struggling to get up the incline in the road just past the lights including myself.

“Out of nowhere appeared four men in dark clothes and hoodies and pushed me and many other drivers over the brow of the hill. My journey took three and a half hours in all, but without these men’s help, I and many others may have been stuck for a very long time. It is only unfortunate that once I got going again I had to keep going, otherwise I would definitely have stopped to hug a hoodie!”

Gary Bailey, who lives in Worthing but works for a travel firm in Crawley, also faced long delays on his journey home across the county. He believed the conditions were particularly treacherous on the A27.

The 29-year-old, of Ophir Road, said: “The roads were quite dangerous as it was really hard to brake. It took nearly three hours to get back to Worthing, which was not as bad as some people.”