Driver could face charges after 13 are injured in bus plunge

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THE driver of a bus that crashed down an embankment, injuring all 13 passengers, has been reported to the procurator fiscal.

Strathclyde Police said the 47-year-old man was reported yesterday over alleged road

traffic offences.

He was among those hurt when the vehicle plunged 20ft off the A702 near Biggar in South Lanarkshire at 8:25pm on Wednesday.

The 30-seater bus, run by Dumfries-based MacEwan’s Coach Services, was operating a scheduled passenger service, believed to be between Edinburgh and Dumfries.

Police said eight of the injured were taken to three hospitals for treatment – Wishaw General, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.

The remaining five were treated at the scene.

Police said all of the injuries were thought to be minor.

The crash led to a four-mile stretch of the A702 being closed north of Biggar between the A72 and A721.

It is understood that conditions in the area were foggy at the time and the road had been affected by heavy rain.

Specialist rescue teams were called in to release the casualties from the wreckage.

A Strathclyde Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “On arrival, the crews were faced with an extremely difficult situation whereby a large, 30-seat bus had left the roadway and rested approximately 20ft down an


“Crews worked in extreme conditions to stabilise the bus, make the situation safe and assess the casualties.

“It was quickly established that there were a total of 13

casualties, with varying injuries, who were assisted from the bus and provided with medical assistance from the Scottish Ambulance Service.

“The rapid, effective rescue operations carried out by the crews at the scene meant that all persons were removed from the bus within the hour of arrival and casualties were taken to hospital for further check-ups.”

MacEwan’s Coach Services had its operating licence cut from 40 to 32 vehicles for six months in October 2010 by Joan Aitken, the traffic commissioner for Scotland, two years after she had warned the firm about maintenance standards.

Ms Aitken imposed the restriction to enable the operator to “put his house in order” following a public hearing.

This had been prompted by “numerous” prohibition notices issued by UK government vehicle inspectors, in which vehicles are banned from the road until faults are fixed. No one from the bus firm was available for comment yesterday.

The incident is the second serious bus crash in the area in the last three years.

Natasha Paton, 17, was killed and 32 others injured in April 2010 when a Photoflash coach carrying Lanark Grammar pupils on a trip to Alton Towers in Staffordshire crashed 10ft off a bridge on the A73 near Wiston, south-west of Biggar.