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Crunch: Driver
failed to spot bridge
was too low after
taking different
route, pupils said

CHILDREN feared they would die when a school bus driver ‘on his first day’ crashed into a railway bridge — shearing the vehicle’s roof completely off.

Three pupils suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries and 12 more had minor ones on the double-decker, which was too tall to pass through.

One passenger, named only as Zoe, was sitting on the top deck chatting to friends when ‘everything suddenly just fell on us’.

Shock: Pupil Zoe feared for her life as her friends screamed in terror

‘Everyone was screaming. I had blood coming from my head. It felt like, “Am I going to live or die?” It was scary,’ added the 14-year-old, who escaped with a minor wound.

Fifty-seven pupils from The Henry Beaufort School, aged 11 to 16, were on board when the Stagecoach South bus struck the bridge at 8.10am yesterday in Winchester, Hampshire. The driver emerged unscathed.

Pupil Jake Coates, also 14, claimed the ‘new’ worker had taken a different route to normal.

He added of the crash: ‘My first thought was, “Has anyone been crushed on the top deck?” People were shouting they were going to die. Dust came through the bus as if the bridge was going to collapse. People were jumping out of windows and workers from nearby were catching them.’

His mother Caroline, 43, who arrived on the scene to help, said: ‘Children were sat on the roadside crying. One was bleeding from the head. The crash shouldn’t have happened, they have single-deckers that use this route.’

Headteacher Sue Hearle said she was ‘extremely relieved’ the crash had not been more serious. Pupils involved will be offered counselling.

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach South said an investigation was under way.