The unicyclist trapped under a bus today told of his “miracle” survival as he thanked the passers-by who saved his life by lifting the double-decker off his body.
Antony Shields, 55, said he was moved to tears when he saw the video footage of about 100 people raising the No212 bus after the collision in Walthamstow.
Speaking exclusively to the Standard on his release from hospital, Mr Shields, a circus performer known as Wonder Nose, said: “When they gave me the Kindle [to watch the footage], I started crying. They saved me. People generally go about their business, but everybody was trying [to help].”
Mr Shields spent a month in the Royal London hospital, in Whitechapel, after suffering a broken leg and ankle and a serious bleed from a wound in his groin, probably caused by a spoke from his unicycle. He nearly had to have his foot amputated and required skin grafts.
“I was lucky,” he said. “One man came and said we are going to help you. He said to the driver: ‘Can you open the door so the people upstairs and downstairs can help lift the bus?’ He said ‘Come on!’, and people ran out of the shops to help.
“I thought if it would roll off me, I would be OK. The doctor said it was a miracle. I give everything to God and that day I knew something was going to work. I can’t believe that I’ve walked again.”
It is thought Mr Shields, who was riding his unicycle across the road on his way home before 6pm on May 28, lost balance in the middle of the Hoe Street/ Church Hill junction as he waited for an oncoming car to pass and fell into the path of the bus as it turned right.
He said: “I was riding behind the crowd [crossing the road]. The bus came from nowhere. It was like I just heard the bus beside me. It was coming at me like a rhinoceros in the zoo.
“I remember everything. The bus was on top of my leg. My foot bent back. I felt hot, very hot. I was looking at the driver and said: ‘God, is this the way I’m going to die?’ I just wanted the bus to come off my foot.”
The first medic on the scene was Stephen Hines, 42, a clinical practice learning manager at London Ambulance Service. He was off duty and returning home in Walthamstow when he was diverted to the scene.
Mr Hines said the crowd “definitely” helped to save Mr Shields’ life. “There is a reasonably strong possibility that if no-one was able to put pressure on the wound he could have bled to death,” he said.
“[I was] able to get to him and treat the wound and give him some pain relief that he really needed, and was able to properly splint his leg and treat his open fractures.
“Everyone told me they had got him out from under the bus. I assumed they had taken his arms and legs and pulled. We were told later on that they had lifted the bus physically off him. I have seen the footage, which is quite amazing.
“Without one person co-ordinating it, how they managed to move it and lift it without potentially causing more damage was an achievement. Everyone just came together and did it.”
Mr Shields has been riding a unicycle since 1982 but said he was unlikely to ride one again. “I have learned enough from that bike,” he said.
A Met police spokesman said the bus driver had not been arrested. He is believed to have returned to work.