THE TEACHER who drove the second minibus on the school trip that ended in tragedy yesterday described the moment when he came across the other vehicle blazing furiously on the motorway.
Dr Bernard Tedd felt ill as he drove past the burning wreckage: 'We saw the flames in the distance. Most of the children were asleep but a couple just behind me were awake,' he said.
'I slowed down and as I went past we noticed it was a minibus. I wasn't sure whether it was Eleanor's or not. It was one of those terrible feelings that you get in your stomach.'
The decision to go first had been taken by Miss Fry after the two buses had left the Albert Hall together. She told Mr Tedd that if anything happened to her bus he would be able to see.
Leaving London, her minibus had gradually pulled away as they both drove up the M40. Close to tears, Dr Tedd said neither had been driving fast.
At the accident, the children who were awake said people were being laid out on the ground. Dr Tedd, 35, the school's head of physics and science, said there were several reasons why he decided not to stop.
'I wasn't absolutely sure if it was Eleanor. I wasn't more than 50 per cent sure. You always hope it isn't.
'The emergency services were already there. I did not think there was anything we could do. The flames were an inferno. I did not want any of the kids in the bus to be distressed by anything that they might see. There was nothing I could do.'
The children discussed the incident on the remaining part of the journey back to Hagley.
'Some of the children were saying it might have been our minibus. I said it could not be,' he said.
'I was only sure when we came over the hill and saw the rows of parents' cars. Only then did I know something was wrong.'
Dr Tedd said the trip to the schools' promenade concert was organised by Miss Fry. She asked him to drive one of the school's two minibuses so they could take a total of 28 children on the trip.
Dr Tedd said the children were 'happy and excited' when they set off at about 2.30pm yesterday. They arrived at the Royal Albert Hall at about 6.15pm and settled down to enjoy the three-hour performance, a showcase for young musical talent involving school orchestras and choirs from all over the country.
He said the two minibuses left the Royal Albert Hall together and stopped at a service station for petrol.
Dr Tedd said the minibuses set off again together, heading north with Miss Fry taking the lead. 'She was a very experienced driver,' he said. 'She never went beyond the speed limit.'
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