Hero bus driver talks of daring rescue of man from burning building

Braintree hero bus driver, Andy Waterman.

Braintree hero bus driver, Andy Waterman. - Credit: Archant

A bus driver whose quick-thinking helped save man stranded on a burning building has played down his new hero status, saying he was “in the right place at the right time”.

Andy Waterman manoeuvred his double-decker close enough to the flame-engulfed Braintree flat for the man to jump on and be driven from danger.

The 48-year-old was driving back to First Essex’s depot when he was flagged down by a group of bystanders.

Mr Waterman, who lives in West Mersea with his wife and 16-year-old son, said: “They said there was a bloke on the roof of a flat that was on fire.

“I got out to have a look and saw there was just no way out for him. I positioned the bus about four to six feet away from the building.

“He had no option but to jump. It was about a 10ft drop but he did it.

“The poor bloke had been in the shower apparently, so he was completely naked.

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“I slowly pulled the bus away from the falling debris. The fire service came and threw him a uniform so he wasn’t totally embarrassed.”

Eight fire crews were called to the fire – being treated as arson – above Ben’s Café, in High Street, at about 7.30pm on Wednesday.

The man was treated by paramedics after breathing in smoke and then taken to Broomfield Hospital.

Mr Waterman, who drives the number 70 and number 132 service, was back behind the wheel of his bus yesterday.

“I’ve been called a hero,” he said. “It hadn’t really occurred to me until my son said I’d saved someone’s life.

“I don’t really feel like a hero but I’m pleased people see it that way. I was in the right place at the right time.”

Adrian Jones, managing director for First Essex, said the firm was very proud of Mr Waterman.