Quick-thinking Kansas City Royals player helps driver after ice smashes windshield of bus in Toronto
Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Blaine Boyer says it’s the team’s bus driver Fred Folkerts who should be deemed the hero of the hour, and not him.
It was just after midnight on Monday and the Royals were travelling along the Gardiner Expressway by Islington Avenue en route to their Toronto hotel, having flown in for a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays, when a large piece of ice smashed into the windshield of the bus.
In a matter of seconds, Boyer was at the side of Folkerts, who was covered in glass, helping him to maneuver the bus to the side of the road safely.
“A lot of people said I did something that was heroic, which is just ridiculous. The only thing I did was steady a wheel for two seconds so [Folkerts] could get his wits about himself,” Boyer told reporters Tuesday morning.
“He literally had glass hanging out of his nose, his face, right under his eye. Fred was awesome in that moment, if anybody is a hero – it’s Fred. I just happened to be in the right spot.”
WATCH: Harrowing bus ride for Kansas City Royals ahead of Blue Jays game. Shallima Maharaj reports.
Falling ice from the CN Tower on Monday damaged the roof of the Rogers Centre and forced the first game of the series to be cancelled.
Boyer said he gave Folkerts a hug when the driver came to pick up the team for their doubleheader against the Jays Tuesday afternoon.
“He’s the man, he’s the hero. If he could be our personal bus driver forever, I would love it,” Boyer said.
WATCH: Piece of ice shatters front window of Kansas City team bus as they entered Toronto
Folkerts told Global News he’s never had anything like this incident happen to him in the 25 years he has been driving.
He said he was “appreciative” of everything that Boyer did for him in the aftermath of the incident.
“He came down right beside me right away while I was trying to keep control of the bus and slow it down and get it over to the right shoulder,” Folkerts said.
“At that point I asked him to keep an eye on my right side to make sure there was no traffic. [The team was] very calm and very relaxing.”
The driver said once the bus was safely on the side of the road, the players began to ask him what he described as “silly questions.” Folkerts said it wasn’t until he talked to his wife later on that he realized they were asking the questions to make sure he remained calm.
“They were trying to keep me from going into shock,” he said.
“I wasn’t afraid or anything but I just wanted to make sure these guys were safe.”
Folkerts said paramedics arrived on scene, assessed him and quickly released him. To the players, Folkerts just wants them to know how thankful he is to them.
“Just admiration — I really find them incredibly warm wonderful guys and I love the idea that that they helped me out,” he said.
Much like the Blue Jays, who also had two games in Cleveland rained out last Saturday and Sunday in addition to Mondays, the Royals have had to deal with their fair share of poor weather affecting their 2018 season.
The team flew in to Toronto late Sunday after having their game in Kansas City against the Los Angeles Angels cancelled earlier in the day due to extreme cold. Monday’s postponement marked the fourth of the season for the team.
Rustin Dodd, The Athletic’s Royals reporter, witnessed the windshield incident while on a second bus carrying reporters and team staff and said it’s been a ‘very strange’ season for the team.
“They flew to Toronto after missing a game, arrived in the midde of an ice storm, dealt with the bus incident and the next day they’re thinking, ‘Finally, we get to play – there’s a dome in Toronto’ and then there is no game because of the ice and the roof,” he said.
Boyer echoed Dodd’s sentiment.
“I’m just glad to be playing. This is the first time I’ve had two games weathered out,” he said.
“This has been a crazy season. Nineteen years in the game [and] I [can’t] remember anything like this to start off.”
The doubleheader on Tuesday marks the third in history at the Rogers Centre. The last time was in 2001 against the Cleveland Indians. Before that was in 1989 against the then-California Angels, when the team was rained out at Exhibition Stadium. The game was postponed and made up at the Rogers Centre (then the Skydome) when it opened that same year.
The last time the Jays were forced to cancel a game at the Rogers Centre was against the Royals back on April 12, 2001, when the game was postponed after large pieces of metal siding and insulation began to fall onto the field. The incident happened before the game started and it was rescheduled at a later date that April.
An ice storm slammed the city of Toronto for three days beginning Saturday and forced the closure of the CN Tower as well on Monday. The tourist attraction and surrounding area reopened for a short time Tuesday morning before authorities shut it down once again due to safety concerns.
Toronto Police shut down Bremner Boulevard between Lower Simcoe and Reese streets. The Rec Room and Ripley’s Aquarium were also closed.
–With files from Shallima Maharaj
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.