Three dead in school bus crash

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The Independent Online

Three people died and four were fighting for their lives today after a crash involving a school coach.

Thirty-five others were injured when the coach carrying children was in the crash with a minibus and a car just before 3.47pm on the A66 near Keswick in Cumbria.

A spokeswoman for Cumbria Police said: "At this time, and based on very early information from the scene, it is believed that there have been three fatalities, four people are in a critical condition, and around 35 are walking wounded.

"Police and fire are in attendance along with six helicopters, RAF as well as air ambulances, six ambulances, non-emergency ambulances, rapid response vehicles, Basics doctors and mountain rescue teams.

"Serious casualties have been airlifted to Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Preston A&E.

"The first receiving hospital is West Cumberland, the second receiving hospital is Cumberland Infirmary.

"Paramedics and doctors are currently assessing the walking wounded's injuries, which range from minor cuts to fractures to spinal injuries.

"The A66 has been closed while emergency services deal with the scene.

"Motorists are advised to follow a diversion route from Crosthwaite roundabout via A591 to Bothel and on the A595 to Cockermouth.

"Police are working to confirm where the coach and minibus started from and were headed on their journeys so we can establish exactly who are involved.

"A casualty bureau is also being set up for concerned parents and guardians to call. Further information and a contact number will be issued within the next 30 minutes."

Brian Lewis, who lives near the scene of the crash, said the school bus swerved to avoid a car before the collision.

He said: "It's a right mess, there are ambulances everywhere, it's a chaotic scene.

"It must have happened at about 3.45 this afternoon. The bus was taking the children home from school.

"The site of the actual crash is in a hollow so you can't see a huge amount from the fields nearby.

"It seems the bus was swerving to miss a car and another vehicle has crashed into it.

"Both have toppled over. We've heard that three have died, about five are seriously injured and at least two dozen have injuries.

"It was a big, big crash, a big mix-up."

Gareth Davies, who lives locally, said his wife Helen, 42, had been walking home with a friend and their two daughters on bicycles, when they heard the crash and a series of screams.

The father of four, who runs a campsite, said his children sometimes took the same bus back from school themselves.

"The two mothers heard a smash and then another smash and then saw the coach was on its side," he said.

"They heard some screams and then my wife went straight home to check on her children."

He said his daughter Abigail, who had been with her mother, was further up the road on her bicycle at the time of the accident.

He said his wife's friend hurried to the scene to see if she could assist.