Heroic Paddington policeman saves teenagers from coach crash

Michael Haughey received a medal from Buckingham Palace for saving the lives of 40 youngsters

A Paddington police officer has been commended for his bravery after his quick thinking saved the lives of a coach full of teenagers.

Michael Haughey, 25, took the wheel of the coach after the driver collapsed at 60mph on a motorway.

The constable, who was off-duty in his role as a volunteer army cadet leader when the incident occurred, grabbed the wheel as the coach began to veer across the central reservation into oncoming traffic on the M3.

He managed to stop the vehicle before it plunged down a steep embankment.

The coach had been carrying 40 cadets aged 12 to 18 who were on a training trip to Wiltshire in August 2010 when the driver collapsed near Camberley, in Surrey.

Mr Haughey was commended for his bravery at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace last week where he was awarded a medal by the Queen’s cousin Princess Alexandra.

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The heroic police officer said: “I was sitting in the front row of seats and noticed the coach had moved across into another lane of traffic without indicating. I spoke to the driver but got no response.

“We were continuing to cross the remaining lanes of traffic onto the hard shoulder and ploughing through a row of trees along the side of the road.

“I got to the driver and could see he had collapsed but I couldn’t get enough room to move the steering wheel or hit the brakes.

“I noticed we were heading for one larger tree, I shouted to everyone to put their seatbelts on and I got down on the floor bracing myself for an impact, but nothing happened.

“When I looked up we were veering back across the lanes of traffic.

“I managed to pull the driver out and got into his seat as we drove through the central reservation and into the opposite lanes of traffic, then drove the bus over to the opposite hard shoulder.

“Everyone was a bit shaken, especially when the cadets started phoning their parents to tell them what had happened, but no-one was injured and even the driver was only treated for the collapse.

“It was just one of those things. If I’d been asleep, or sitting further back I would never have noticed what was happening.

“I was lucky that I was in the right place at the right time.”