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Family of girl killed in M53 school bus crash tell of ‘massive void’ in lives

Jessica Baker, 15, and coach driver Stephen Shrimpton, 40, died when the vehicle overturned in Cheshire on Friday morning.

Ellie Ng
Sunday 01 October 2023 15:28 BST
Jessica Baker, 15, and the driver of the coach died in the crash (Merseyside Police/PA)
Jessica Baker, 15, and the driver of the coach died in the crash (Merseyside Police/PA) (PA Media)

The family of a teenage girl who died after a school coach crashed on a motorway have said her death has left a “massive void” in their lives that “will never be filled”.

Jessica Baker, 15, was one of two people who died after the coach overturned on the northbound M53 near junction five at Hooton, Cheshire, at around 8am on Friday.

Coach driver Stephen Shrimpton, 40, who was remembered by his family as a “loving husband and father”, also died.

Jessica’s family paid tribute to her in a statement released through Merseyside Police.

In it, they said: “Jessica was a warm-hearted, wonderful daughter, granddaughter and niece, devoted sister and loyal friend.

“A talented climber, based at the Boardroom Climbing centre academy where she helped coach younger climbers and competed around the country inspiring others.

“At the age of 15, just starting Year 11 at West Kirby Grammar School, where her focus was not just on academic work but also sports, representing the school at many events.

“Her untimely death has led to a massive void in our lives that will never be filled.

“She will be missed by many, from not only school but also the climbing community across the country.”

She was an unassuming, polite and conscientious student who exemplified the values of our school

Simeon Clarke, West Kirby Grammar School headteacher

The headteacher of her school, Simeon Clarke, also paid tribute, describing the teenager as “unequivocally kind and empathetic” and saying she will be “greatly and sadly missed” by all at West Kirby Grammar.

He said: “Jessica was a dedicated friend who was a well-liked and respected member of our school community.

“She was an unassuming, polite and conscientious student who exemplified the values of our school.

“Jessica was also a keen sportswoman, representing her house and the school in numerous competitions, and demonstrating an unwavering love of – and commitment to – rock climbing, where she had previously represented Wales in national competitions.

“Jessica will be greatly and sadly missed by her friends, teammates, classmates, and all at West Kirby Grammar School who had the pleasure and privilege to encounter her.”

Mr Shrimpton’s family released a statement through Merseyside Police on Saturday, saying: “Stephen was a loving husband and father to his wife and his wonderful children, a caring and thoughtful man who would always prioritise others over himself.

“Stephen will be sadly missed by all his friends and family.”

Post-mortem examinations will be carried out next week to establish the causes of death, police said.

A total of 58 people were involved in the incident.

Four children who were taken to hospital – including a 14-year-old boy whose injuries are said to be life-changing – are in stable conditions, according to the force.

Others were handled at an emergency training centre, with 13 treated for minor injuries before they were released.

The force is appealing for witnesses and dashcam footage from drivers near the incident.

Anyone with information about the crash should call the Matrix Serious Collision Investigation Unit on (0151) 777 5747, or SCIU@merseyside.police.uk, or contact @MerPolCC on Twitter, or the Merseyside Police Contact Centre on Facebook quoting reference 23000944471.

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