18 August 2008

Major accident near Alton Towers

A double-decker coach, carrying 71 passengers, has crashed in the village of Alton after apparently colliding with an unoccupied parked car on a narrow road. It then crashed through a brick wall and plunged nearly 15 feet down an embankment before landing on its side in a garden.

The passengers, from Lithuania, South Africa and Poland, were all farm workers at Lutton Bank Farm at Oundle, and were returning from a day out at the nearby Alton Towers theme park.

A 26 year old Polish man was killed in the accident. Of those still receiving treatment, a 21-year-old woman from Poland remains in a critical life-threatening condition, and the 63-year-old British driver from Lincolnshire, is in a critical but not life threatening condition, in intensive care with severe leg injuries. Five others, two from Poland, one from Latvia and two from Lithuania all remain in various local hospitals in stable conditions. 21 other passengers were taken to hospital and dozens more were left with minor injuries.

The Plaxton-bodied double-deck coach 3085 KX, is owned by Decker Bus of Whittlesea, formerly Alec Head coaches of Lutton.

A spokesman for Decker Bus said they offered their "sincere sympathies and condolences to all involved and the families of the dead and injured."

An investigation into the crash is ongoing at the time of writing. The driver was given a routine breath test but this was confirmed as producing a negative result. A specialist heavy rescue team will begin the process of recovering the coach once investigations have been completed. Until then, nearby residents have been evacuated due to leaking fuel, and the road will also remain closed.

(Photo courtesy of PA)