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Youth centre worker takes wheel of cab, helps avert tragedy

After noticing cab driver foaming at the mouth, worker jumped into front seat to take control of the vehicle as six youths 'freaked out' during scary incident
This past fall, Orillia Youth Centre worker Chris Bronson prevented a tragedy by taking control of a taxi after the driver experienced a medical emergency with six youth in tow.

The Orillia Youth Centre is known for helping local young people, but one of the centre’s youth workers went above and beyond the scope of his job description recently.

This past fall, Chris Bronson was taking a group of six youth bowling, and his actions on the way to the bowling alley prevented what could have been a tragedy.

While en route to the bowling alley in a taxi, Bronson said the driver began experiencing a medical emergency.

“At one point, I looked over, I noticed he was kind of foaming from his mouth, and he wiped it off and everything, like he seemed OK,” Bronson recalled. “Then it happened again, and I’m, like, ‘Sir, are you OK? Everything good?’ He didn’t really respond.”

Bronson said he told the unresponsive cab driver if he did not respond, he would have to take control of the vehicle.

“I just remember some kids in the back, kind of starting to yell and freak out,” Bronson said. “Then I noticed that there was a turn coming up.”

Bronson undid his seatbelt, jumped onto to the driver’s lap, and managed to steer the vehicle to the side of the road.

“I remember his head like bouncing off of my back like, like he was seizing or something,” Bronson said.

“I did everything I could (to) just fit my leg in between his legs. I knew that I had to try to find the brake pedal, and I couldn’t see where I was going. Obviously, there was a lot going on,” he said of the frightening incident.

“I remember thinking, ‘I’m either going hit the gas or the brake, but I’ve got to do something,’ (and) luckily, it was the brake and I pulled the car over.”

After he pulled over, Bronson got the kids to safety.

“The back end of the van was still sticking out on the road, so I yelled at the kids to just go past the sidewalk … far away, because I (wasn’t) sure what’s going to happen,” he said.

Bronson then called 911 for the cab driver, who survived the incident, he said.

“I jumped on the phone and called 911 and, by that time, he came back to and he was walking in the middle of the street and now cars are driving around him,” he said. “I had to go and chase him down while I’m talking to 911 … and then I finally got him back to the front of the van.”

Fortunately, someone the cab driver knew happened to drive by around that time, as well.

“Somehow, somebody he knew ended up showing up, so they kind of took care of him while I kind of just looked after the kids,” he said.

When paramedics showed up, Bronson explained the situation while the cab driver’s friend called a taxi to pick everyone up, and then they all went bowling while the cab driver received treatment.

Bronson said someone from cab company later thanked him for his help and confirmed the cab driver was OK.

The situation felt “like a movie,” Bronson said, adding he does not necessarily want to be recognized for his actions that day, but he does want the story to be told.

He also wanted to note people do good things every day, even when they are not caught on camera.

“Even though stuff … isn’t caught on film, stuff still happens; people still change lives,” he said. “I don’t want awards or anything like that, just maybe the story (to be) told or heard.”

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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