Schoolboy driver kills 3 in minibus

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The Independent Online
THREE SCHOOLBOYS illegally driving a Range Rover crashed across a motorway central reservation yesterday and killed three passengers in an oncoming minibus.

The accident happened yesterday afternoon on the A3(M) near Waterlooville, Hampshire. Three of the nine minibus occupants were killed; two died at the scene, the third later in hospital.

It is believed that the minibus was carrying workers from the Estee Lauder factory in Petersfield, Hampshire. Police have not yet named the victims but at least one is from Portsmouth.

Police said last night that three boys, aged 14, 15 and 16, had been arrested after the accident. None of them is old enough to drive the powerful four-wheel- drive vehicle, which sources said had been taken without permission from the family of one of the boys from Clanfield, between Petersfield and Waterlooville.

A spokesman for Hampshire police added: "We've not yet been able to interview the three boys because we haven't contacted all their parents and we can't interview them until all their parents are present." The Range Rover was later reported stolen after the crash, said police.

Rescuers arriving described the scene as carnage. Two of the boys had been taken to hospital for treatment but were arrested on their discharge, said police.

The Daf minibus had been travelling along the A3(M) at Waterlooville at about 3.30pm when the crash happened. A police spokesman said it was believed that the black Range Rover crashed through a barrier on the central reservation before the collision.

Both carriageways were closed after the crash and the southbound carriageway, where the accident happened, was closed for several more hours, allowing access for the police specialist accident investigation unit. The minibus was hired by an employment agency to ferry factory workers from the Petersfield area to surrounding towns and villages.

Station Officer Mark Wittcomb, of Hampshire fire and rescue service, said 20 firefighters attended the crash and helped to cut free the driver of the minibus.

He added that the vehicle had been fitted with seat belts but it was not yet known whether passengers were wearing them. "The minibus was severely damaged and on its side on the inside lane of the carriageway and the Range Rover was upside down further away. There were bits of vehicles everywhere."

A number of casualties were taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. Last night, three people were still receiving treatment, but their injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

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