Accident reopens debate over seat belts: Boy, 6, dies as school mini-bus hits truck

A BOY aged six was killed and eight other children were injured when the mini-bus taking them to school collided head-on with a pick- up truck yesterday.

The truck driver and two adults travelling with the children were also hurt in the accident, near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

Yesterday's crash reopened the debate on whether school buses should be fitted throughout with seat belts - only the mini-bus driver and front passenger had restraints. Police say the accident occurred as the six boys and three girls aged between 5 and 14 were being driven to Alderman Knight special school in Tewkesbury. It helps children with moderate learning difficulties.

The mini-bus collided with the truck on a straight stretch of road near Ford. It then turned on its side and ploughed through a stone wall, trapping Richard Jones, six, of Aston Magna, near Moreton-in- Marsh, Gloucestershire. He was dead on arrival at Cheltenham General Hospital.

The other eight pupils, several of whom had to be cut free from the wreckage, were also taken to the hospital for treatment. They were detained overnight for observation, as were their adult supervisor, Huw Morgan, 50, and the mini-bus driver, Martin Rose, 36.

Paul Wilson, the hospital's accident and emergency consultant, said some of the injuries could have been prevented had all the children been wearing seat belts.

The driver of the pick-up truck, Gareth Heath, 41, of Cardiff, was cut free and flown by air ambulance to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford with serious spinal and internal injuries. He was yesterday described as stable.

Pupils at Alderman Knight were told of the accident in assembly, and were offered the chance to see a psychologist trained in bereavement counselling. A spokeswoman for Gloucestershire County Council confirmed that the mini-bus had front seat belts only. Carol Rose, mother of the driver, said it had recently passed its annual Department of Transport inspection.

Concern over the safety of school buses has grown since last November, when 12 children and their teacher died on the M40 in Warwickshire after their mini-bus struck the back of a lorry and burst into flames. A few days later, 13 members of a school football team were injured when their mini-bus was crushed between a petrol tanker and a lorry on the A3 at Paines Hill, Surrey. Doctors said all but one of the pupils escaped serious injury because the vehicle was fitted with seat belts, which they were wearing.

The Department of Transport said yesterday that seat-belt regulation is a matter for European Union law, and while Britain could act alone, legislation would be difficult to enforce. A European Commission working group has been formed to examine bus and coach safety.

However, motoring organisations, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and other pressure groups believe seat belts should be fitted now to all minibuses and coaches.

Derek Prentice, assistant director of the Consumers' Association, yesterday called on Robert Key, the Minister for Roads and Traffic, to act without waiting for Europe- wide agreement. 'Research consistently shows that seat belts save lives. Legislation which makes the fitting of seat belts in mini-buses and coaches compulsory is long overdue,' he said.

His view is supported by David Young, Labour MP for Bolton South East, who has tabled Commons questions to John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, and John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, demanding that all coaches used to carry children should have seat belts for each passenger.

However, Christine Milburn of the Bus and Coach Council, said the Government and the European Commission must first complete thorough safety studies. 'We have to make sure we have the right system for the job. Once the research is done and our members are told, 'this will make your vehicles safer' they will go out and do it.'

Last night, Richard's parents, Jim and Gwendolin Jones, who have three other children, described their son as 'just as mischievous as any lively six-year-old who like most children deserved and received a lot of love'.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn