Three dead, 50 injured following Surrey coach crash
THREE people have been killed and 50 injured, some of them seriously, after a coach returning from a music festival careered off a road and hit a tree.
• Three people killed and 50 others injured after coach crashes into tree on A3 near Hindhead
• Coach returning from Bestival event on Isle of Wight
• Police investigating possibility of overcrowding on 52-seat bus
The coach from the Merseyside area left the A3 near Hindhead in Surrey and hit an oak tree on an embankment on Monday night.
It was returning towards London with festival-goers from the Bestival event on the Isle of Wight when it left the road at a bend near a tunnel.
The three people killed included the driver of the coach. All 50 survivors from the crash were taken to hospital, some of them with “life-changing” injuries, Surrey Police said. No other vehicles are believed to have been involved.
Inspector Richard Mallett, of Surrey Police, said officers did not believe road conditions or the weather were factors in the crash.
Casualties were taken to seven hospitals in Surrey, London, Portsmouth and Southampton. One passenger had to be airlifted to Southampton General Hospital.
The coach was operated by Merseypride Travel, and Surrey Police are working with their counterparts in Merseyside, as well as with the company, to identify the passengers and notify relatives.
Insp Mallett said: “We are dealing with a major incident, a tragic major incident. The coach has gone off the road and had a significant impact with a tree.
I think that is the best way to describe it.”
He later added: “Some people were unconscious when they were taken away from here. We believe some people might lose limbs and certainly there are some life-changing injuries amongst the survivors.
“The priority was to get the people out of the coach and then we can really begin to look at forwarding the investigation. We don’t think that the road conditions or the weather were a factor in this.”
Asked how long the coach had been on the road, he said: “We understand that it left the Isle of Wight festival, so we are less than an hour from Portsmouth, where they come across [on the ferry]. So less than an hour of this journey.
“Again, we needed to make sure that we got the people out properly and then we can start looking at things like tacho charts.”
Police had spoken to two witnesses, and their accounts will be taken into consideration during the investigation, Insp Mallett said.
“Every survivor was taken to hospital, then some were taken after that to a local reception centre. I understand that some have been collected and taken home,” he said.
Speaking outside the Merseypride Travel depot in Speke, Liverpool, owner David Hannell said: “Myself and the company offer our heartfelt sympathy to all the families of the passengers involved. We ourselves are devastated.
“I’ve been up all night worried sick about what’s been happening.”
He described the vehicle as a 51-seat “exec coach” which was 16 years old. The driver was semi-retired and had been with the company for six months, Insp Hannell said. He added that the driver was “well-rested”.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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