We fell into a ditch and the windscreen smashed - six-year-old tells how 42 Cambridgeshire primary pupils escaped when coach taking them to Hunstanton overturned on A10 at Hilgay
13:30 23 July 2014
© Archant Norfolk 2014
A six-year-old pupil on board a coach which overturned on a trip to the seaside told of the “scary moment” when it crashed.
Forty-two children escaped with slight injuries after the bus veered off the A10 at Hilgay, ending up in a ditch.
They were among a party from the William Westley Primary School at Whittlesford, near Cambridge, who were on their way to Hunstanton.
Year 1 pupil Libby Hull said: “The driver felt poorly. The wheel of the coach hit a rock and then we fell into a ditch and the windscreen smashed.
“My chair was above me and I think I was sort of upside down.
It was really scary, people on the other side to me were a bit sad and were crying.”
The six-year-old had to be carried over brambles to get out of the coach, before being treated by rescuers.
“There were ambulance, police and firemen there. The paramedic tested us to make sure we were all OK. They tested my blood pressure to make sure my blood was working and that hurt a little bit but not a lot.”
To keep calm, Libby said the pupils sung 10 Green Bottles in a field nearby. Parents were reunited with their children after a relief coach was sent to collect them and bring them back to school.
Libby’s mother, Alex Baraitser, said: “The e-mail the school sent out was really clear. They said they had been in an accident but all the children were fine.
“I was concerned in case Libby was upset about not going to the beach because it is such a lovely day. But then my friend called me and told me some more details.
“However, I stayed calm because the school made it very clear everyone was fine. The school rally has been fabulous throughout this. And I am really proud of all children because they did so well.”
Parent Gulya Atayera said: “It has been very scary, I was crying all day. But the good thing is nobody was hurt and the school have dealt with this excellently. It really is a great school.”
Caroline Butler, whose child was on the trip but not on the coach that crashed, said: “I am just grateful nobody was hurt.”
Fellow mum Bev Small said: “The school has dealt with the situation extremely well and all the children have been looked after really well.”
The road was closed for more than six hours, while emergency services attended to the incident and recovered the damaged coach.
The vehicle owned by Royston-based Richmond’s Coaches, was travelling in a convoy with two other coaches, when the crash happened just before 11am.
A spokesman for the Confederation for Passenger Transport, the trade body for coach operators, said: “We don’t know what happened but one of the coaches left the road and ended up in a ditch.
“The drivers from the following vehicles were able to assist in safely evacuating passengers from the coach and we believe there are no reported injuries.
“A replacement coach was sent to collect passengers and they’ve all returned to school.”
He added the coach involved in the crash was a modern vehicle, fitted with lap belts. All coaches registered after 2001 mmust be fitted with belts by law.
The confederation spokesman added: “As an industry, we’d say where seatbelts are available, we’d advise passengers to wear them.”
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council, speaking on behalf of the school, said: “The bus which ended up in the ditch was one of three travelling in convoy so the children simply got on to the other two buses and are being taken back to the school. All of them are unhurt.”
It later emerged one child was taken to Addenbrooke’s, suffering what was described as “a pre-existing condition”.
Emergency services including four fire engines attended the scene of the collision, between Dent’s Farm Shop and the Ely Road junction.
A police spokesman said: “It has been confirmed that the coach contained 42 primary school children, five members of staff and one parent helper from the Cambridge area and the driver.
“The children and staff members suffered only minor injuries as a result of the collision and were able to leave the coach immediately.
“A number of them received treatment for shock at the scene but did not require hospital treatment. The driver had to be cut free from the coach and has been taken to hospital for treatment for suspected back injuries.”
Traffic was diverted through Hilgay while the A10 was closed. Villagers said long queues built up.