Heroic bin men halt runaway vehicle in Sheffield

Emma Smyth's car was saved from crashing into a neighbour's garden by Veolia bin men Paul Mate (left) and Richard McCarthy (right) with their supervisor Peter Sutton (centre). Picture: Andrew Roe

Emma Smyth's car was saved from crashing into a neighbour's garden by Veolia bin men Paul Mate (left) and Richard McCarthy (right) with their supervisor Peter Sutton (centre). Picture: Andrew Roe

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Hero binmen leapt into action to narrowly avert a disaster after a car was left without its handbrake on and starting hurtling towards a house.

Quick-thinking refuse collectors Paul Mate and Ken Burnard held the Suzuki Swift – which had travelled 30 metres down a hill – while bin lorry driver Richard McCarthy frantically tried to find its owner.

Emma Smyth's car was saved from crashing into a neighbour's garden by Veolia bin men Paul Mate (second right) and Richard McCarthy (second left) with their supervisor Peter Sutton (l). Picture: Andrew Roe

Emma Smyth's car was saved from crashing into a neighbour's garden by Veolia bin men Paul Mate (second right) and Richard McCarthy (second left) with their supervisor Peter Sutton (l). Picture: Andrew Roe

They managed to locate owner Emma Smyth – who was sleeping and blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding outside her home on Totley Hall Drive, in Totley, Sheffield.

The 41-year-old has now met with two of the three heroes, who work for Veolia and were on a fortnightly collection in the area, to say thank you for going above and beyond their normal duties.

She said: “Thankfully the car was saved and everyone was safe thanks to these three unknown heroes.

“I’m the first to get hold of the phone and complain when the bins aren’t emptied but this really goes above and beyond their call of duty. They were brilliant.”

Emma and husband William, 46, had been moving their vehicles off their drive each morning so builders could access their property on the cul-de-sac.

But William, an account manager, forgot to put on the handbrake on Emma’s car.

Emma, a stay-at-home mum, said: “My husband, in his pyjamas, has been getting up and taking both cars off the drive.

“His is an automatic handbrake but mine isn’t and he didn’t put it on.

“He came back into the house and didn’t think anything of it.

“About half an hour later we heard somebody banging on our neighbour’s door and then they knocked at ours.

“It was a man asking if the red car was ours.

“It had started to roll down the hill towards the neighbour’s house and garden wall. It had started to pick up speed after about 30 metres and two of the men ran to stop it as it rolled, while the driver knocked on neighbours doors to try to find me.

“They were brilliant. They held it until I came to get it. It could have been so much worse.”

She added: “Some of our neighbours were cross that they had got a loud wake up call as the heroes banged on doors about 8.30am.”

A spokesman for Veolia, which manages waste collection in the city, praised the binmen for their quick-thinking.

He said: “Our crews are dedicated to serving the residents of Sheffield, and on this occasion that meant more than just emptying their bins.

“We are proud that our staff didn’t hesitate to jump into action to avoid what could have been a serious accident.”