No charges for driver in Dunbar bus crash, police confirm

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THE driver of a bus that crashed down an embankment last week, injuring all 13 passengers, will not be reported to the procurator fiscal, police have clarified.

• Bus driver will not face charges after crash on A702

• Strathclyde Police admit incorrectly stating that the driver would be referred to the Procurator Fiscal

Strathclyde Police admitted it had stated incorrectly a day after last Wednesday night’s crash near Biggar that the 47-year-old man would be reported over alleged road traffic offences.

However, a spokeswoman has now said the report to the fiscal, which has yet to be sent, would concern the “circumstances of the crash”.

The driver was among those hurt when the vehicle plunged off the A702 in South Lanarkshire.

The 30-seater bus, run by Dumfries-based MacEwan’s Coach Services, was operating a scheduled passenger service 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.

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 embankment.

“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.