Woman killed in M62 hen party crash named as Bethany Jones

 

Tributes were flooding in today for a teenager killed in a horrific motorway crash involving a minibus taking a group of women to a hen party.

Bethany Jones, 18, was killed and eight women seriously injured when their vehicle collided with a lorry on the M62, near Pontefract, West Yorkshire, on Friday morning, police said.

In total 21 women were injured including the bride-to-be, named in reports as Stefanie Firth, after the group set out from nearby South Elmsall to travel to Liverpool.

The driver of the lorry was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and has been released on bail, West Yorkshire Police said.

Of the eight women critically injured, one is in intensive care while seven are described as being in a "serious but stable" condition, a force spokesman said.

The crash, which happened at about 11.30am, left the minibus on its side across a carriageway and luggage strewn across the motorway.

Six air ambulances were called to the scene, close to junction 32 on the westbound carriageway, and four took casualties to nearby hospitals.

Firefighters called the crash "the worst they had seen in a number of years", Dave Walton, assistant chief fire officer at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said.

Tributes and messages of support flooded on to Facebook today.

One of the group, Ashleigh Warner, had expressed her excitement about the planned hen party just hours earlier on the social networking site.

She wrote on her Facebook page: "Jumping on the Liverpool status bandwagon ......... Cos I'm sooooooo excited had my tshirt on since 8 this morning:))) hope Stefanie Firth has the best time xxxx"

Holly Jackson wrote on Ms Jones' Facebook page: "RIP Beth hope ur family are holding up. Xx"

Alexandra Wood wrote on Ms Warner's Facebook page: "Get well soon ash, thinking of you and your family xxx"

Emma Simon wrote: "Thinking of you all Ash, hope you all make a quick recovery xx"

Emma Long added: "We hope your ok, thinking of you and everyone else involved at this sad and difficult time."

South Elmsall resident Doreen Gray, 70, described seeing the group of women get onto the minibus near the town's bus station half an hour before the collision.

"They were all wearing pink, that's what caught my eye. They were all in great spirits so it's devastating to hear what has happened," she told the Pontefract and Castleford Express.

One patient, a woman in her 40s, suffered suspected serious chest injuries and was anaesthetised before being transported, while another was airlifted to hospital also with chest injuries.

Police said an off-duty officer was the first person to report the accident and stayed at the scene to help, while members of the public also helped to give first aid.

Dr David Macklin, from Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said that crews were faced with "a very difficult scene with multiple seriously injured people", but he praised their "excellent and professional response".

Chartered accountant Pritpal Singh, 28, from Leeds, was travelling back to his office on the M62 westbound when the accident happened.

He said by 2.30pm everyone going in the same direction as the crash had got out of their cars and started walking around on the road.

"I was about a third of a mile back from where the accident was, I got out and walked up to the scene," he said.

"I could see a minibus which was on its side. It had quite a severe amount of damage on the right hand side.

"The lorry which had collided with it was on the main motorway."

Jon Trickett, MP for nearby Hemsworth, tweeted his condolences, saying: "My heart goes out to all in the M62 accident, their friends and family. What should have been a weekend of fun & laughter now a tragedy."

Police have urged anyone who is concerned about a family member or who witnessed the crash to contact them on 101.

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