Elderly tourists injured in coach crash

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The Independent Online

Four tourists were seriously injured yesterday, and 35 more taken to hospital, after a packed coach crashed and overturned on a mountain road in the Lake District.

Four tourists were seriously injured yesterday, and 35 more taken to hospital, after a packed coach crashed and overturned on a mountain road in the Lake District.

The passengers were believed to be predominantly elderly, with the majority from the north-east of England.

Air ambulances from the north west and north east of the country were scrambled to the scene at Ambleside, four miles from Windermere.

Many of the victims were described by onlookers as "walking wounded", and the driver and three passengers had to be freedby emergency services. The injured were taken to hospitals in Lancaster, Barrow, Preston, Whitehaven and Kendall.

Fifteen of those injured will be kept in hospital overnight, 11 of them at the Lancaster Royal Infirmary. The hospital's chief executive, Ian Cumming, said: "There are many broken bones – arms, legs and shoulders. We also have a lot of glass injuries, presumably from the windows of the coach."

The patients ranged in age from late-thirties to "one lady who is over 90" he said.

A police spokesman said that the tourists were on a day trip from Stakeford, near Ashington, Northumberland, with a company called DFF Travel.

The coach is believed to have left the Kirkstone Road in Ambleside at about midday, before crashing and overturning in a private garden.

A local resident who did not wish to be named said that the road was very steep and was not regularly used by coaches.

A police spokesperson said: "The driver was descending the hill when he lost control and crashed into the boundary wall of a house, and the vehicle ended up on its side in the garden. All the passengers got out except four – three passengers and the driver. They have now been released by police, fire service and Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue," he said.

The coach still lay in the garden last night – about a foot from the back door of a retired couple, Michael and Nancy Horrax. Their house had become a temporary refuge for victims and rescuers throughout the afternoon.

Brian Mitchelhill, from the Cumbria Fire Service, said fire crews from nearby Windermere and Kendal, as well as Ambleside's own unit, attended the incident.

Mr Mitchelhill added: "There is no indication how the accident happened at the moment."

Local residents said the weather conditions at the time of the crash could have been a contributory factor.

"It was quite foggy and drizzly at midday, not bright at all," said Edward Burns of Kirkstone Road.

"The road where the accident happened is known locally as 'The Struggle' because it is so steep. There have been a lot of accidents there in the past."

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