A hero has described the dramatic moment he stopped a runaway van from smashing into a mosque.
Alan Rae was teaching a student to drive on a city street when he noticed the van rolling backwards down a hill – heading directly towards a mosque and a university building.
He told the student to sound his horn but then the pair noticed there was nobody at the wheel.
Quick-thinking Alan jumped out of the car, dashed to the runaway van and got inside just in time to apply the brakes and prevent the vehicle from crashing into the buildings or hitting a pedestrian.
Mr Rae, who works for Police Scotland as a driving instructor, told the Evening Express his “natural instinct” took over during the dramatic incident, which took place on Orchard Street, Old Aberdeen, near Aberdeen University and Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre in September 2018.
The 65-year-old added: “I was doing minibus training with a student. I noticed that a silver van started to roll slowly backwards and I told the student to toot the horn in acknowledgement.
“But as the van passed I looked in and nobody was inside.
“I jumped out and ran down after the van, which was luckily unlocked, and managed to climb in.
“It was just natural instinct.”
Mr Rae, of Old Aberdeen, said he feared the runaway van could have caused a serious incident had he not leaped into action.
He said: “There were some people going around, as it is a student area, and because there was no engine sound they might not have heard the van.
“Afterwards the student went to locate the driver and they retrieved the van. They were a bit alarmed but it all turned out to be fine.
“I never really thought about the incident until a while later, when I sat down for lunch and started to think about what the other outcomes could have been.”
In recognition of his courage, Mr Rae was presented with a special bravery award at a Police Scotland ceremony yesterday.
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone handed Mr Rae the award at the Police Scotland College in East Kilbride.
Afterwards, Mr Rae said: “I’m very humbled and proud to have received the honour. I was just doing what I’m supposed to do.”
Also at the awards, Police Scotland named Barnados as its partner of the year in recognition of the charity’s Reducing the Impact of Sexual Exploitation project, which is running in Aberdeen.