‘I thought he was asleep, then he started to go a greyish blue’ – baby knocked unconscious on Letchworth bus after van forces emergency stop

Toni-ann Orchard with children , Faith, Isaac and Noah-Ellis.

Toni-ann Orchard with children , Faith, Isaac and Noah-Ellis. - Credit: Archant

A mum-of-three from Letchworth has praised the quick thinking of the bus driver who came to the aid of her eight-week-old son after a near-miss with a van saw him knocked unconscious.

Toni-ann Orchard was on her way home on the 55 bus with little Isaac and his one-year-old brother Noah-Ellis when a red Transit van pulled out in front of the bus at the corner of Openshaw Way and Norton Way South, forcing the driver into an emergency stop to narrowly avoid a smash.

The sudden braking sent Isaac’s buggy tipping backwards against the side of the bus, injuring his head. The van did not stop at the scene.

“It was a normal day, but it changed so quickly,” said Toni-ann.

“We were going home from a shopping trip where we had just bought a piñata and wrapping paper for my three-year-old daughter Faith’s birthday party – she was being looked after by my friend.”

At first Isaac seemed unhurt and the bus carried on its journey.

“I thought he was asleep, because he had started to fall asleep before it happened,” said Toni-ann. “Then he started to go a greyish blue.”

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The bus driver stopped the bus to tend to Isaac. Toni-ann thinks he may have had medical experience, and said he came over to examine her son before calling the emergency services.

“I was shaking that much I thought I was going to pass out, I couldn’t stop shaking. My baby was unconscious for 14 minutes,” she said.

Ambulance crews, an air ambulance and police rushed to where the bus had stopped outside Sainsbury’s in Third Avenue. Passengers were moved onto another bus so little Isaac could be treated before he was hurried to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

“He had been unconscious for a long time and it was so scary,” said Toni-ann, 21.

“I could barely get near to him at the hospital, there was so much going on. They were doing lots of tests. None of us knew what injuries he had or if they were life-threatening.”

Doctors concluded that Isaac – who was born three weeks premature and is small for his age – had escaped serious injury but diagnosed concussion. They kept him in overnight and warned he would be unsettled for a while.

“He hasn’t been the same, his sleep is different and he is really unsettled,” said Toni-ann.

Toni-ann damaged muscles and ligaments in her shoulder when she pulled the buggy back up and is on anti-inflammatory medication.

She said: “I can barely lift the kettle, let alone my children. It really has had such an impact on the whole family, I can’t sleep properly. It has been really traumatic.

“All my children have had tough starts with health problems when they were born, but Isaac has escaped the worst of it, and then I could have lost him like this. It just doesn’t bear thinking about.”

As she tries to put the ordeal behind her, Toni-ann wants to thank the bus driver for all his help.

“The way he stopped the bus was incredible,” she said. “We would have been hit. He was amazing.

“If a child or an old person was on the kerb, they could have been seriously hurt because of how the person in the van was driving. It could have caused a massive accident. I thank God that it wasn’t worse.”

Police are keen to speak to the driver of the van, and have asked anyone who saw the incident to call the non-emergency number 101, quoting ISR 379 of June 7.