SURVIVORS of a holiday coach accident have told how they are lucky to be alive after a freak gust of wind blew the vehicle off the road.
The coach was en route to Inveraray, with 52 tourists on board, when high winds swept it off the A83, causing it to roll over and land within a few feet of Loch Restil.
Police, who are appealing for witnesses, said 19 people were taken to Central Belt hospitals for treatment, including five with serious injuries, while other “walking wounded” were treated locally.
Mick Long, 66, from Kent, who was on the coach with wife, Carol, 62, said: “[She] is still in the Royal Alexandra Hospital [Paisley]. She went through the coach window, she suffered a couple of cracked ribs and lacerations.”
“She looked just like Carrie, from the [Stephen King horror] film, with all the blood on her,” Mr Long added. “She has just had a scan and then she is hoping she will be able to come back from hospital.”
Speaking from the Loch Awe Hotel, the Lochs and Glens Holidays hotel where the coach party – all from Kent – were staying, Mr Long added: “I am recovering from a fractured pelvis after falling through a shed roof five weeks ago and now I am recovering from a fractured collar bone, from the coach accident, they also had to stitch up my ear too.”
But Mr Long said: “I think we were all very lucky to get out of that one, another roll and we would have been in the water, it doesn’t bear thinking about.”
He said the coach party had stopped at Ardgartan for lunch, and had just left the Rest and Be Thankful when passengers heard a loud bang. Mr Long said: “The wind took the skylights off the roof of the coach, the wind came across and just punched us right over.
“The driver did her best but nobody could have held that. When you are in that situation there is nothing you can do, you can’t hold on, your body is being thrown all over the place.
“It rolled over and it was like being in a washing machine. I was wearing a seat belt but I ended up on the floor. I couldn’t find my wife and then I looked out and she was sitting on the bank, she had gone out of the window.”
Mr Long, helped by another man, then kicked the side door of the coach open to get to his wife and he said: “We picked her up with help from some other people.”
People passing by in cars stopped and went down the embankment to help, straight after the crash. They vacated their vehicles so that injured and shocked coach passengers could sit in the warmth until the emergency services arrived shortly afterwards.
Most of the passengers were taken to the local hall in Arrochar to be assessed.
Passenger Ron Nicolson, 80, from Gravesend, Kent, who was on the coach with his wife, Lily, 78, who, he said, suffered severe bruising in the accident, said: “I thought it [the bus] was going to go right over into the water, it was at a 45 degree angle and all of a sudden it just toppled back.
“It was very lucky, it could have been a tragedy.”
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