Schoolboy praised after bus crash drama

AN HEROIC schoolboy smashed an emergency window to help screaming youngsters escape their double decker bus after it crashed into a ditch and was left balancing on two wheels.

AN HEROIC schoolboy smashed an emergency window to help screaming youngsters escape their double decker bus after it crashed into a ditch and was left balancing on two wheels.

Almost 20 terrified Suffolk schoolchildren were forced to flee the vehicle – some by jumping out of a window on the top floor – fearing it would tip over onto its side.

Police, who last night described the state of the road as “appalling”, said the students had a lucky escape after the brave 14-year-old pupil smashed a window to aid the escape before staying on the bus until everyone else was safe.

Matthew Hackett, of Haverhill, who goes to St Benedict's School in Bury St Edmunds, said: “Everyone was just sitting on the bus when we went down this narrow road and just flipped into a ditch.


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“Everyone was screaming and shouting and trying to get back on the other side of the bus. We couldn't get the emergency window open so I was forced to run at it. They were thrown from their seats on to the floor.”

Matthew, who hurt his knee smashing the window, jumped out of the upper floor window after helping to remove bags off the bus.

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He said: “I just wanted to help others and get them out. There was a lot of crying and everyone was shocked - I think people thought it was going to go over and they wanted to get out quick.”

Most of the youngsters were out of the coach before police arrived and officers and paramedics then attended to the shocked pupils.

Sgt Wayne Naylor, of Haverhill Police Station, said: “Witnesses have said that the coach was going about 30mph, but if it had been any faster, clearly the bus would have gone over on its side and we would have been looking at far more serious injuries.

“It was certainly a lucky escape although children were clearly distressed and shocked, which is understandable as the accident must have been very traumatic.

“The gullies on the side of the road are clearly hidden by the growth of the weeds and grass and it can give a misleading impression of a solid verge.

“It is appalling and something the Highways Agency should consider (rectifying) in order to make sure an accident like this doesn't happen again.”

The crash took place at about 8am yesterday morning in Brockley Green, near Hundon, and involved a double decker from Haverhill-based Burton Coaches.

Students on the bus were from West Suffolk College, St Benedict's School and County Upper School, all in Bury St Edmunds.

Paul Cooper, managing director of Burtons, said: “The incident happened on a very small narrow road and there was no third party involved.

“Burtons Coaches only employ professional drivers who are fully trained and on the face of it, this driver seemed to act in the same exemplary manner we would expect from our staff. We will now be carrying out our own internal investigation.”

A spokesman for the Highway Agency confirmed they would be investigating the cause of the accident before deciding whether improvements to the road should be made.

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