Family of gran who lost both legs in bus accident say driver has 'snatched her independence'

The driver of the bus accidentally trapped Joan’s walking stick in the bus doors and drove off. Credit: Handout/ ITV Tyne Tees News

The family of an elderly woman who lost both her legs after a bus driver drove off, while her walking stick was stuck in the doors, have said she is "not the same woman".

Joan Scott, who was 83 at the time, tried to board a double-decker bus on Battle Hill Drive in Wallsend, Newcastle, on 19 September 2021.

The GoNorthEast bus driver, Scott Cliff, mistakenly believed Ms Scott had previously tried to ride the bus without paying, so closed the doors and drove off.

He did not realise her walking stick was trapped in the door, causing her to be dragged under the bus tyres and causing catastrophic leg injuries.

The grandmother-of-three, now 85, needed to have one leg amputated at the scene while the other was removed in hospital a few hours later.

  • Joan's granddaughter Sarah told ITV News' Helen Ford

Her son, Brian Scott said since the incident his mother is a different person.

He said: "It's not the same woman. She's not funny anymore, she's always serious.

"She's devastated.

"It's been hard, very very hard for everyone concerned but we've just got to get on with it."

The driver, Cliff, of Lindisfarne Road in Hebburn, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday 27 July after pleading guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Newcastle Crown Court.

Scott Cliff was jailed for 27 months. Credit: Northumbria Police

Ms Scott's family said Cliff has taken her independence and hoped his actions would serve as a warning to drivers of other vehicles.

Ms Scott's granddaughter Sarah Scott said: "She was a massive social butterfly, she used to go into Newcastle twice a day, meet friends at Fenwicks Cafe, read her magazines.

"She was at my mum and dads house every day practically for her lunch as well, and now she can't even take herself to the toilet.

"It's just awful, it's just absolutely devastated all of us."

After Ms Scott lost the use of her legs, her granddaughter Sarah became her full time carer.

Joan Scott. Credit: Handoutt

She said: "The impact on me was huge. I went from having a massive social life to being a 24-hour carer seven days a week.

"At first we had no equipment, so I was lifting my grandma everywhere.

"She wasn't sleeping so I was up all night as well. You couldn't leave the room because she was shouting because she was too afraid to be alone and she's the same way now too."

Now the family is urging bus drivers to be more careful.

She added: "I just want drivers to check the doors before they pull off.

"I just want them to double check that there's nobody standing there at the doors, just triple check really, because it could happen to anyone."

Joan Scott. Credit: Handout

The family are now trying to make Ms Scott as comfortable as possible in her last chapter of life by doing things like playing her favourite music and bringing her chocolate, but her granddaughter added that this is "not the way she should be living her golden years."

PC Catherine Lloyd, who led the investigation into the incident, said the heartbreaking case should act as a “harrowing reminder” to all drivers of their responsibilities whilst in control of a vehicle.

She also heaped praise on Ms Scott’s family for their strength and cooperation since the collision.

“This is such a devastating outcome for Joan and her family and my thoughts remain with them at this awful time,” PC Lloyd said.

“What happened on that evening was absolutely tragic and the consequences irreversible.

“There is no doubt that Cliff’s actions have destroyed more than one life forever, and it should act as a harrowing reminder to everyone as to what can happen if you are behind the wheel of a vehicle and act carelessly, dangerously or without due consideration to others.

“I sincerely hope that Joan and her family can take some comfort knowing that the person responsible has been convicted at court, and I’d like to thank them for the incredible strength and cooperation that they have shown throughout.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure our roads are as safe as they possibly can be, and we will continue to pursue those who endanger the lives of others whilst behind the wheel.”

A spokesperson for Go North East said: “Our thoughts are with Joan and her family at this very difficult time.

"This was a tragic incident that we must learn from, the vast majority of our bus drivers are compassionate and empathetic to the vulnerabilities of the customers they serve.

"Despite that, it is very important that we work with all drivers to ensure awareness of the impact their actions can have and this remains a high priority for us.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...