French Tourist Saves Coach From Toppling Over Cliff
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
A French tourist has been praised for preventing a tour coach from plunging over a cliff in the Austrian Alps after the driver passed out.
The vehicle was travelling through the mountains in the Tyrolean Alps with 21 passengers on board when the 76-year-old driver collapsed, police say.
As the coach continued towards a steep cliff, the Frenchman was able to apply the brakes.
The vehicle crashed into a barrier at the side of the road and came to a stop. Four people were taken to hospital.
The 65-year-old passenger was sitting close to the driver when he became ill near the city of Schwaz in western Austria on Saturday, local media report.
He then leapt from his seat as the vehicle crashed through the wooden roadside guardrail and applied the brake, leaving the bus full of passengers hanging over the cliff edge a short distance from a 328 ft. drop.
“We were a hair’s breadth from catastrophe,” a local police spokesman said, adding it was “incredible luck” that the passenger’s reflexes had managed to stop the bus, the AFP news agency reported.
Five tourists were killed in 2004 when a coach left the road and tumbled down a 30m embankment near the village of Bad Dürrnberg, south of Salzburg, in Austria.