‘Massive bang’ as roof torn off school bus, leaving children ‘seriously’ hurt
Written by on 10 September 2020
Three children have been seriously injured and a dozen more hurt after a double-decker school bus crashed into a bridge in Hampshire.
The roof of the vehicle was ripped off after it hit a bridge on Well House Lane in Winchester while taking students to their third day of the new term at the Henry Beaufort School at around 8am on Thursday morning.
Hampshire Police said three pupils were taken to hospital with “serious but not life-threatening” injuries and 12 others suffered minor injuries.
Inspector Andy Tester, of Hampshire Police’s roads policing unit, said a further 57 children on the Stagecoach South bus, and the driver were unhurt.
The bus operator said an investigation was under way. No arrests have been made.
Student Jake Coates, 14, was travelling on the bus and said it took the wrong turn “because it was running late”.
Jake said the bus was being driven by a new driver and “came this route today because it was a couple of minutes late, it might have been 10 minutes late, so it took a different… tried to take a shortcut, which didn’t go well.”
He realised it was going the wrong way when it passed under the bridge, he said.
“When it went through the bridge, there was this massive bang and you could smell the friction, the smoke, and all the windows smashed, and glass came in and people had glass on them, and cuts.”
He said no one lost any limbs, but a student was cut across the throat, while another had cuts on the head.
There was screaming, he said, after the collision, and “everyone was panicked, shaking, shocked… it was quite scary. I didn’t know if anyone was still inside the bus, trapped.
“A lot of people were screaming, they were shouting like they were going to die, a lot of dust came through as if the bridge was going to collapse,” he added.
The bus driver told them to stay on the vehicle, but a woman who was passing, stopped and got on, and told them to get off, he added.
“When we got out of the bus, I could see people jumping out of the back windows and workers from nearby were catching people.”
Jake’s mother, who is a nurse, was “helping someone who had a bad cut on their forehead”.
Caroline Coates, 43, said she and her husband ran to the scene to help when they heard the crash.
She said she was relieved when she realised Jake had not been hurt and added: “The children were sat on the side, obviously quite upset, crying, bleeding.
“I went to another girl who was bleeding from the head and I stayed with her.
“It was quite a shock, quite upsetting. There was a lot of crying, wandering around, trying to get hold of their parents and the school, and checking an ambulance had arrived.”
She added: “Obviously it shouldn’t have happened, they have single-deckers that use this route.”
Robert, 15, who did not want to give his surname, said he was uninjured in the crash but “shaken” after the collision.
He told the PA news agency: “I was on the lower deck. I was on my phone when it actually happened, we went under the tunnel and I heard a crash, and I didn’t think it was as major as it was, I didn’t know what tunnel we were under.
“It took a little while to realise what was happening… part of the roof fell down to the side of the bus that I was on.
“I waited for the people on the top deck to get off, and at that point I saw some of the bad injuries people had. I think everyone was in shock.
“When we got off the bus, everyone sat down on the grassy bank outside, people started to panic and phone parents, some people started to cry.
“It took like an hour maybe while everyone was sorted until we started to leave.”
One witness told Sky News the bus was full and that a number of pupils had been hurt.
“The roof was taken off by the tunnel and fell on the side of the bus,” they said.
All the students involved were from Henry Beaufort School and aged between 11 and 16.
Headteacher, Sue Hearle, called it a “distressing” incident, and said they are “extremely relieved” it wasn’t more serious.
The school’s senior leadership team “was on site within minutes,” she added, saying she was proud of the response of students and their families.
Part of Well House Lane was closed as emergency services deal with the incident.