January 4, 2007
Daily Record PM, P1
by SHAUN MILNE
TWO people were killed and dozens more badly hurt when a coach heading for Glasgow overturned on a motorway.
Several victims – including children – were said to have lost limbs in the tragedy, which happened on the M25 just outside London.
Police investigating the crash today arrested the driver of the coach, who is said to be Scottish.
THE driver of the coach which crashed killing two people and injuring dozens of others was arrested this morning by police.
It is thought the man, who is 40, has been held on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
The double-decker bus packed with Scots overturned on a motorway just outside London last night.
A huge rescue operation swung into action overnight after the National Express bus bound for Scotland overturned on a junction of the M25 near Heathrow Airport at 11.45pm.
Police confirmed a man and a woman, in her sixties and from Dundee, had died.
The injured included an elderly Scots couple who were on their way home from celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Bosses said the majority of passengers on the London to Aberdeen service were headed for a stop in Glasgow, with others bound for Hamilton, Dundee and Aberdeen.
Emergency amputations were thought to have been performed as rescuers fought to save some people trapped in the wreckage. Sources claimed a mum and her two children were among those who lost limbs. Others were said to be in “critical” conditions in hospitals across London.
Several children, including a one-year-old tot, were among those hurt.
Golden wedding couple Gordon Welsh, 73, originally from Glasgow, and wife Audrey, 70, were on h bus home after celebrating with family.
Mr Welsh fractured I his shoulder and hurt f his lower back while his wife suffered a dislocated hip and fractured I ribs.
He was able to walk free from the wreckage but Mrs Welsh was trapped.
Family members how the couple, who live on the Isle of Skye, could remember the coach clipping the kerb before swerving to the left and finally toppling over onto its side.
Mr Welsh told relatives he saw his wife “fly past him” during the impact and after the crash could only reach out and touch her hair to let her know he was there.
He is expected to be released from hospital today although his wife is expected to remain there for more several days.
David Wright, of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue, said that firefighters used cutting equipment to free at least 36 people from the mangled wreckage of the coach. A total of 69 people were on board when it crashed and 21 injured were taken from the scene on stretchers.
National Express Chief Executive Paul Bunting said today: “Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and loved ones of those involved in last night’s accident.
“We are working closely with the emergency services and our main priority at this time is to ensure all customers are being cared for and information is provided to families and friends.”
The coach which crashed was the 10.30pm National Express service 592 from London Victoria to Aberdeen. It was due to arrive there at 10.25am this morning after stopping at Heathrow Airport, Carlisle, Hamilton, Glasgow and Dundee.
But the bus overturned at 11.45pm last night on a slip road leading from the M4 to the M25. No other vehicle was thought to have been involved.
A total of 20 ambulances, five fire engines, a fire brigade specialist rescue unit and eight doctors attended the scene.
Mr Bunting said the crash was “a tragic accident” and he confirmed there were Scots on board.
“The majority were heading to either Glasgow – where the majority were destined – and to Dundee and Aberdeen,” he said.
“It started its journey at Victoria coach station in central London and picked up further passengers at Heathrow.
“It’s quite likely there were holidaymakers, certainly some foreign nationals on board as well when the coach left Heathrow.”
“We know we had some Polish nationals as well as Scottish people.”
He said the passengers on the service were split between two coaches.
One of the vehicles wasn’t involved in the accident and carried on with its journey.
Neil Boustred, station manager at Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue, said the overturned coach had landed on the driver’s side, and many of the injuries were on that side of the bus where it had skidded along the ground.
He said: “Therefore, where windows had smashed, that had caused some quite horrendous injuries for some of the persons on board.”
An ambulance spokesman said the bus appeared to have crashed into a metal safety barrier and overturned, sliding across two lanes.
He added: “At least six patients had been trapped in the wreckage, and a further six patients were described as having serious injuries, including the traumatic amputation of limbs.
“No other vehicles are believed to have been involved in the incident.”
Aerial shots of the crash scene showed the coach with a black tarpaulin over its damaged roof, covering the scene inside.
It was sitting at an angle straddling the lanes of what would normally busy an extremely busy stretch of motorway.
This morning, investigators and emergency services continued to work at the scene to establish the cause of the incident.
At 9am today the damaged coach, with smashed windows showing from under the tarpaulin, was being loaded onto a lorry, ready to be moved from the road.
National Express have issued an emergency number – 0121 625 1278 – for those concerned about family or friends who may have been on the bus.
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