But immediately after falling onto the pavement, Smith — wearing faded blue jeans and a black vest — appeared to lift himself up, brush himself off and calmly walk into the entrance of a popular pub in town, the Purple Turtle, just a few feet away. Somehow, Smith survived the collision with no major injuries — just a few scratches and bruises, the BBC reported.
Many who watched the dramatic video footage of the bus crash, which circulated on social media and in British news outlets Tuesday, interpreted it as the latest symbol of British nonchalance and resilience. “A fine example of Keeping Calm and Carrying On!” one person said on Facebook. Some compared it to the image of the British man who casually held a pint of beer as he fled the area of the June 3 London Bridge terrorist attack, becoming an unlikely hero for Brits that weekend.
“Terrorist attack, man runs with the pint,” one person said on Twitter. “Another is hit by a bus, gets up to a pub. The British worship beer more than life.”
“That bloke just got up & walked into the pub like nothing had happened! What a legend!”
A closer look at the footage shows that Smith didn’t actually walk into the pub directly after the collision — he just sat in its entrance. The Purple Turtle isn’t usually open that early in the morning, according to its website.
People nearby rushed to check on him, medical personnel were soon called to the scene, and an ambulance transported him to a hospital, the BBC reported. Smith was later released. Thames Valley police said no arrests had been made in connection with the crash.
Smith told BBC South Today he felt “lucky to be alive.” All was not entirely well, however. Smith was reportedly badly shaken up and in pain later in the day.
The bus company, Reading Buses, released a statement, saying it was “obviously shocked by the incident as well as the very graphic footage that has been shared a number of times,” ITV reported. It sent its regrets to the man and best wishes for a quick recovery.
“Thankfully, the pedestrian does not have any major injuries and there were no major injuries to passengers on the bus,” the statement read. “The incident is the subject of an ongoing internal investigation as well as an investigation by the police.”
In an interview with ITV, Purple Turtle co-owner Danny Fraifeld said Smith used to work for the pub. He was a longtime customer before he began working as a bartender, “a real loyal member of staff.” Smith is apparently a truck driver in his late 40s or early 50s, ITV reported.
When he was crossing the street Saturday afternoon, he had just been to a bank and was on his way back to his car, ITV reported.
“It’s absolutely shocking,” Fraifeld told the BBC. “I just can’t believe that Simon got up, dusted himself off and walked away from it. It’s a miracle that he’s alive.”
People on Facebook who appeared to be acquaintances of Smith also weighed in.
“I always knew he was hard as nails,” one person said. “Tough as old boots,” said another.
“Not even a glance over your shoulder bro,” said another. “Priceless.”
Meanwhile, the Purple Turtle — which drew sudden worldwide interest — made a point of assuring its customers it is open for business as usual.
“Didn’t you mean to say ‘Watch the video, even getting hit by a bus doesn’t stop our customers!’” one person commented on the post.
“No river wide enough, no valley deep enough, no bus strong enough,” another person said.
Others had different responses in mind: “Did Simon get a free pint after that?!”