NEWS

2012-03-26

Tragic crash on M5

A MALE passenger has been killed and 39 other people were injured when a lorry crashed into the back of a broken-down coach on the M5 motorway in early morning fog.

The tragic smash occured on the southbound carriageway, between junctions three and four in the West Midlands, at around 6am on Saturday morning.

A coach, believed to be carrying agricultural workers to Evesham in Worcestershire, broke down on lane one of the motorway - which was engulfed with thick fog.

The Highways Agency confirmed they put electronic warning signs on the motorway telling motorists about the stranded coach but just 10 minutes later a lorry careered into the back of the vehicle.

The force of the impact sent the coach flying across all three lanes of the carriageway, leaving it resting against the central reservation with the severely damaged lorry embedded into its rear.

Debris can be seen scattered across the carraigeway, which was completed blocked by the smash.

The front of the lorry is completely caved in and the windows towards the rear of the bus are smashed.

Chief Inspector at the Central Motorway Police Group, Carl Flynn, confirmed that a 35-year-old man from Birmingham was killed in the horrifying smash. 

He said: "There was 34 passengers on board the coach, a mix of men and women, there were no children. 

"Tragically a 35-year-old male passenger from Birmingham has died as a result of this incident and we are in the process of informing his family."

He also confirmed that another male passenger from the coach is in a critical condition in hospital along with the driver of the lorry, who is from the South West.

Mandeep Singh was sitting at the back of the coach when the lorry smashed into it and he confirmed they had been stationary for around 10 minutes before the accident happened.

Mr Singh said: "We are coming from Birmingham. Our bus had broken down here and nearly after 10 minutes a lorry came from the back and hit the bus from the back.

"We are trying to start the bus nearly for 10 minutes but after that the driver called somebody. Suddenly the lorry comes from the back and hits the bus.

"I'm sitting in the back. I was jumping from the bus. Some people are gone and someone is coming from Birmingham to get me.

"Everyone is very scared, some people are crying, some people's legs are broken. I am really lucky."

Eyewitness Penelope Morgan, who drove past the stranded coach minutes before the crash and telephoned police to warm them about the situation, said: "The coach was in the slow lane, the fog was really thick. The lights on the coach were not visible at all, there were no fog lights.

"We were in the middle lane luckily, otherwise we would've hit the coach. The hazard lights were on but you couldn't see them until you were so close.

"I dialled 999 and told the police about it. It was an accident waiting to happen.

"The fog was really bad. You couldn't see your hand in front of your face. It was quite bad, I've not seen fog that bad for some time."

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “On arrival at the scene crews found a coach and a lorry that had been in collision.

 

“A total of forty adults were assessed and treated on scene. Twenty seven of those have now been conveyed to hospitals around the region including Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, City Hospital, Alexandra Hospital and Sandwell Hospital.

 

“Unfortunately one patient, believed to have been travelling on the coach at the time of the incident, was confirmed deceased at the scene.”

Emergency services cofirmed the two people seriously injured in the fatal crash were a passenger on the coach and the driver of the lorry. 

Communications officer Carol Cole, from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where it is believed the two critically injured people are, said: "We've got five casualties that were brought in by ambulance.

"Two of them are major trauma injuries and two of them are classified as seriously injured. The other one has been described as walking wounded."

The lorry involved in the tragic crash belongs to haulage firm Fowler Welch.

A spokesperson for the company said: "Fowler Welch has had a vehicle involved in a major RTA on the M5. At this stage the facts are not fully known. 

"Our thoughts and concerns are with those involved and their families. 

"We will be co-operating fully with the police and emergency services to aid them in their investigation."