Headteacher says pupils face ‘difficult day’ after M53 school bus crash

Jessica Baker, 15, and coach driver Stephen Shrimpton, 40, died after the school bus overturned on Friday morning.

Lucas Cumiskey
Monday 02 October 2023 11:39 BST
Emergency services at the scene of the coach crash on the M53 on Friday (Peter Byrne/PA)
Emergency services at the scene of the coach crash on the M53 on Friday (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

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Children involved in a coach crash that killed two people are being offered specialist mental health support and school staff are accompanying them on buses, a headteacher has said.

West Kirby Grammar School student Jessica Baker, 15, and coach driver Stephen Shrimpton, 40, died after the school bus overturned on the northbound M53 near junction five at Hooton, Cheshire, at around 8am on Friday.

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, Merseyside Police said.

The headteacher at Calday Grange Grammar School, one of the schools the bus was taking children to, has said returning pupils faced a “difficult day” in the wake of the tragedy.

“First of all we have staff travelling on the buses, we thought that was important,” Stephen Gray told BBC One’s Breakfast programme on Monday, outlining the support being offered.

“There will be obviously angst about travelling to school in the first place.

“So we are working with West Kirby in terms of staffing the buses.

“Also, we have the police on site all week with us.

“We have specialist mental health support coming in from the NHS, and we also have our own staff as well.”

Asked how everybody is coping, Mr Gray added: “I think in the circumstance they’re managing really well.

“It never ceases to amaze me, the human spirit really.

“I was there on Friday at the clearing station where they were taking the casualties and there’s a real sense of togetherness and obviously dealing with the situation and people really were fantastic and stuck together to work through it.

“So we envisage it being a difficult day, it was a difficult day (on) Friday.”

He said everybody is “pulling together” in response to the incident, in which 58 people were involved.

Mr Gray said the school is offering support to the pupils injured in the crash.

Asked for an update on the condition of a pupil who suffered “very bad injuries”, he said: “I believe, well it’s a difficult situation. I can’t really, you know, go into too much detail on that.

“We’ve heard from the family over the weekend. We sent our best wishes. But it’s very difficult.

“Obviously, two people have lost their lives sadly. And then obviously, as you were saying there, two students have been been badly injured, one particularly so.

“It’s very difficult but we’ll be in contact with the family and offer whatever support we can.”

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