Alderton: Head praises emergency services after school coach crash

A HEADTEACHER has praised the “quick and skilful response” of emergency services after a coach carrying 48 students collided with a skip lorry on a Suffolk road.

Alister Laidlaw, principle at Alexanders International School in Bawdsey, reached the scene of the crash - in nearby Alderton - shortly after the arrival of police, paramedics, firefighters and an air ambulance crew.

All 48 students, four members of staff and the driver of the coach escaped the crash uninjured. The driver of the skip lorry suffered leg injuries, initially considered potentially life-changing but later confirmed as less serious, and was airlifted to hospital for treatment.

The accident happened around 9.20am yesterday morning on the B1083 Woodbridge Road, which was closed for several hours in both directions.

The coach, owned by Leiston-based Belle Coaches, was one of four travelling to Cambridge for a day trip organised by the school, which offers preparation for UK examinations to children from overseas. Most of the students, who were European and aged between 11 and 17, continued the journey on a replacement coach but some chose to return to the school.

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Mr Laidlaw said: “We got everyone off the coach and safely to the side of the road, away from the accident. We took advice from the police and checked who wanted to continue - 39 decided to go on, seven wanted to come back.

“We’re very grateful to the emergency services for everything they did. They were incredibly speedy, very understanding and helpful. We have nothing but praise for them.”

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The children were taken from the scene to the nearby Old Rectory where they were looked after until a replacement coach arrived. The air ambulance had also used a field on the property to land.

Sergeant Julian Ditcham, from Suffolk’s roads policing unit, said: “We were called to initial reports that the skip lorry driver was trapped in his vehicle with potentially life-changing leg injuries. He was extricated from the vehicle by the fire service and ambulance crew who assessed his injuries as superficial.”

An investigation is being carried out into the cause of the crash. Both drivers returned negative breath test readings at the scene.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, and has yet to speak to police, is asked to call Pc John Clarke at the roads policing unit on 101.

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