Two local heroes were honored by the City of Bethlehem Thursday, three days after they took action to stop a hit-and-run driver who attempted to flee after .
LANTA bus driver Richard Gubish of Northampton and Jud Smull, a senior who is the current valedictorian, were on the bridge when bicyclist Frank Pavlick was struck by a car driven by a 17-year-old from Bethlehem.
Gubish used the bus to block him from escaping, and Smull pinned the fleeing vehicle with his own until police arrived on the scene.
Pavlick, who is recovering from his injuries, thanked both for their quick thinking.
“It had to be a little bit scary because you never know who will get out of the car. But it’s cool. Thank you.” Pavlick told Smull.
Mayor John Callahan said he was proud to be mayor of a city that has citizens that care about the community.
A video from city surveillance cameras shows the event unfold, but it was the actions of Gubish and Smull that made catching the hit-and-run driver possible.
“There is no camera that can take the place of engaged citizens,” Callahan said.
Police Commissioner Jason Schiffer echoed the sentiments.
“It warms your heart to see when people put themselves out there and do the right thing,” he said, adding the event wouldn’t have had the same outcome without them. “You two gentlemen certainly stood on the right side at the proper time.”
The two heroes were modest, saying little as they were honored with April 5 being named for them and receiving recognition coins from the police department.
“I’m just happy you’re okay,” Smull said. “I was very surprised to see (him) stand up after that.”
“I’ve never seen it before. Never want to see it again,” said Gubish, who has driven for LANTA for four and a half years. “I hope people are more aware of what’s going on. Everyone’s in a hurry to get somewhere. They need to be more safe.”
Pavlick further thanked the two drivers who helped keep the vehicle that hit him from escaping.
“I think if I didn’t have more work to do here, I would have been checked off. I’ve been waiting to meet these guys and say thanks both publicly and privately. It’s what I would have done,” Pavlick said “I’m really happy to be here. I don’t know how to express it. It’s a gift.”
He added the incident won’t slow him down.
“I’m not just going to stop riding my bike,” Pavlick said. “I have to get another bike. My bike’s in custody — it’s in evidence.”
The avid cyclist is a vocal advocate for bicycle safety and has worked with local police and the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation to make the city safer for cyclists, Callahan noted.
“We just didn’t think he’d be the example,” the mayor said.
A new law that went into effect this past Monday, just a few hours before Pavlick was struck, will help keep cyclists safer. Pennsylvania is the 20th state to enact such a rule.
“People need to be aware this is a bike-friendly community,” Callahan said. “At four feet, Pennsylvania provides the largest buffer between bicycle and vehicle.”