Coach driver is held after crash kills two passengers

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The Independent Online

The driver of a double-decker coach that crashed, killing two people, has been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving after allegedly taking a bend too quickly. The London to Aberdeen coach toppled over as it travelled eastwards along a slip road from the M4 towards the M25 near Heathrow, tearing off some passengers' limbs.

A friend of an injured passenger spoke about the accident as he went to visit Eddy Loney, 37, in hospital in west London. He said of his friend: "He is surprised that only two people died. There was blood everywhere, apparently."

Other survivors spoke of the bus going "a bit too fast in wet conditions ". One said it felt as if a tyre had burst. The bus is being examined by crash investigators.

Last night National Express said its entire fleet of 12 double-decker coaches would be withdrawn from service immediately as a precaution. The vehicles will be given safety checks.

Several passengers lost limbs in the crash and at least one woman had an arm amputated later. A 73-year-old man returning to the Isle of Skye after celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary described how he saw his 70-year-old wife "fly past" him as the coach overturned. Afterwards, Gordon Welsh could only reach out and touch his wife Audrey's hair to let her know he was there.

One victim was identified as Christina Munro Toner, 76, of Dundee. The second fatality was described as a man in his late twenties. A spokesman for St Mary's Hospital in Paddington said a three-and-a-half-year-old boy and a seven-month-old girl were "critical but stable" in intensive care.

A total of 36 people were understood to have been taken to Hillingdon Hospital. Three were still seriously ill. Twenty one were released yesterday.

"We've had spinal injuries, we've had major head injuries and we've had limb trauma," David Houlihan-Burne, a surgeon, said. "These patients were clearly thrown or dragged along grass or mud because there was heavy contamination of all the wounds."

James Lant said his stepbrother, Michael Milbourne, who is being treated at Hillingdon Hospital for a fractured vertebra, told him the coach was coming on to the slip road when it "veered to the left then right and then it just lost control".

Mr Lant said: "He said that after the accident he'd woken up and found a young blonde girl laid on top of him and he was afraid the man next to him might have been dead because he had a glazed look on his face."

Greg Grimes, a teenager, said his father Peter, 45, from Fulham, west London, had helped to stop three passengers falling from the coach during the accident.

Of the 16 people taken to Charing Cross Hospital, four were still being treated and one required major surgery. Seven were taken to West Middlesex Hospital, in Isleworth, west London, including a one-year-old and a two-year-old.

After hospital treatment the driver, aged 40, was arrested at 11.30am yesterday. He was interviewed at a police station in Berkshire.

The coach was the 10.30pm National Express 592 from London Victoria, although it was contracted out to Plymouth-based Trathens, part of the Scottish bus company Park's of Hamilton.

The chief executive of National Express, Richard Bowker, said that the firm took "serious precautions" against accidents. He said: "This was a very new vehicle so it was fitted with seatbelts in every seat."