Bus crash girl killed on her 16th birthday

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The Independent Online

One of the children killed when a school bus crashed in Cumbria was celebrating her birthday, police revealed today.

Chloe Walker, from Frizington, was on her way home after spending her 16th birthday with classmates at Keswick School when she was killed yesterday along with fellow pupil Kieran Goulding, 15, from Whitehaven, and a third adult victim driving a Honda Civic.

Police revealed today that children from the same school who were travelling on a minibus rushed to help their classmates after the crash.

Nine children were still in hospital today, two in a serious but stable condition after the school-run crash near Keswick.

The coach driver, a 63-year-old man, was also in a stable condition in hospital, Cumbria Police said,

The crash left 35 others as "walking wounded". The injuries included fractures and spinal injuries.

All were hurt when the bus apparently swerved to avoid a vehicle, collided with the Honda Civic and ended up on its side.

Today the whole school was in shock as the victims were named and further details of the crash emerged.

The minibus was behind the 49-seater coach and its occupants saw it swerve, turn over and crash with their schoolmates on board.



Video: Bus crash girl killed on her birthday

Some ran to the aid of stricken victims from the coach, police said.

The coach was ferrying children from the school in Keswick back to their homes in and around Cockermouth, about 13 miles away, when it crashed on the A66 at around 3.45pm.

The tragedy has left both staff and pupils "shocked and dismayed", headmaster Mike Chapman said.

"The school was shocked and dismayed to hear of the crash. We have lost two of our own in Kieran and Chloe," Mr Chapman said.

"All I can say is they were Keswick School children and that makes them the most wonderful children in the world.

"We're all praying for our students who remain critically ill and all of those who suffered both psychologically and emotionally."

Thanking the emergency services for help in "tackling the horror in our midst", he said the school would open today with support for students.

"We have a very large number of distressed children, we have a very large number of distressed staff, some of whom were down at the scene yesterday afternoon. We are all going to pull together today," Mr Chapman added.

"The children as ever were surrounded by their friends and people who wished to help and that is how it will be today."

Students at the school will be given counselling and those who are taking exams will have extra support.

Special assemblies will also be held throughout the day.

Mr Chapman said the details of the crash were "very sketchy" and it was "a sight that very few students wish to see again in their lives".

Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson, speaking at the crash scene today, said: "It's too early to talk about what caused this accident.

"We are certain there were only two vehicles involved.

"The third, the minibus containing children, was very near to the accident and witnessed it and clearly the children were very traumatised.

"As the incident commander, I can't help but be impressed that at a time of great need the emergency services and the community in West Cumbria once again have come together and done their utmost to try and help people and preserve life.

"As we've already mentioned, an endearing sight of children running to the aid of their colleagues.

"Colleagues from fire and rescue service, mountain rescue, the ambulance service and local GPs and schoolteachers all going to the assistance of young people at that scene."

The driver of the silver Honda has yet to be formally identified, he said.

Children classed as walking wounded were taken to Braithwaite School, near the crash site, where paramedics and doctors treated injuries ranging from minor cuts to fractures and spinal injuries.

Police closed the A66 until 3am to allow a thorough investigation of the crash scene.

Traffic officers appealed for witnesses who saw the JB Pickthalls coach or the grey Honda Civic at the time of the crash to call 0845 33 00 247.

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