A Nanaimo bus driver has recently learned his actions likely saved the life of a 68-year-old Cobble Hill man.

It all happened because the driver put his bus behind schedule when he thought he heard someone in trouble.

Neil Atleo was checking over his bus in the Regional District of Nanaimo’s transit yard last May before heading out on his route when he heard some unusual sounds.

“It did sound like someone moaning or grunting in distress so checking the neighbouring busses couldn’t figure it out,” said Atleo

He was just starting to back his bus out when he took one more look around. That’s when he looked through this fence and saw something wrong next door.

“When his legs twitched in an odd way that’s when I realized he might be the person that was making the noises so I put my bus back in park got out and asked if he was okay. He didn’t respond. He then again grunted and groaned,” said Atleo.

Despite now running late for his route, Atleo called 911 and stayed with the man until help arrived.

“I’m not sure I’d be alive if he didn’t find me. I’m not sure because I couldn’t breathe,” said Lin Bayford, who survived the fall.

Contractor Lin Bayford suffered four broken ribs, three cracked ribs and a collapsed lung when he fell off an almost five-metre high ladder.

BC Ambulance crews rushed him to the hospital where he spent three days, before spending another six weeks recovering at home.

But it was just this past week that Bayford was able to call Atleo to express his gratitude.

“I said I cannot thank you enough. Words can not express what you’ve done for me,” said Bayford.

“To be an instrumental part of saving someone’s life is absolutely amazing and we’re so proud of him and he should be really proud of himself,” said Brandon Miller, the superintendent of Fleet and Transit Delivery for the Regional District of Nanaimo.

Atleo says what he did is just part of his job.

“Cool feeling but as a bus driver especially serving the public this is what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to observe everything. Everywhere we are everywhere we go,” said Atleo.

Atleo’s actions led him to be 17 minutes behind schedule on his bus route but all involved say the delay was worth it.

Kendall Hanson