A third person from a specialist autism school caught up in a major crash on the M4 motorway on Thursday has died.
Three members of staff from the Prior's Court school in Berkshire have now died after their minibus collided with a lorry.
Two fatalities were originally confirmed earlier on Friday but now the driver of the minibus, who was initially rushed to hospital with critical injuries, has also died, reporters at a press conference at the school were told.
Three young adults with autism were also in the vehicle, Prior’s Court revealed in a statement earlier. They were also taken to hospital but only suffered minor injuries.
Two further employees at the school remain in hospital in a serious condition.
Mike Robinson, the chief executive of Prior’s Court, said in a statement earlier that everyone at the charity was “devastated” by the news of the initial two fatalities.
“I send my deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the two people who lost their lives.
“At this time, there are three further staff members receiving treatment and my thoughts are very much with them and their families.
“In such tragic circumstances, we are grateful that all the young people involved are safe and without serious injuries, and we will be doing everything we can to safeguard their wellbeing at hospital and upon their return.”
The minibus was returning to Prior’s Court after the three young adults – who all have severe autism – had been taken to a work placement.
Specialist family liaison police officers are working with those caught up in the “terrible and tragic incident”, a statement from Prior’s Court also said.
The crash happened just after midday on Thursday, between junction 14 and junction 13. The road was closed for several hours while Thames Valley Police attended the scene and three helicopters from the South Central Ambulance Service were scrambled to rush the surviving victims to hospital.
The driver of the lorry which collided with the Prior’s Court minibus was also taken to hospital with minor injuries.
One motorist who witnessed the smash, James Lloyd, said it was the “worst accident” he had ever seen. Thames Valley Police are appealing for anyone who saw the collision – and particularly those who have dashcam footage – to contact them by calling 101 and quoting reference number URN 545 (11/10).
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