Girl, 14, and driver killed after school bus flips over on M53 leaving up to 50 pupils injured

29 September 2023, 14:38 | Updated: 29 September 2023, 19:14

Up to 50 pupils injured after a school bus flipped over in rush hour on the M53
Up to 50 pupils injured after a school bus flipped over in rush hour on the M53. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A bus driver and 14-year-old girl have died after a school bus overturned in a horror smash on the M53 this morning.

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A 14-year-old boy is in hospital after suffering life-changing injuries.

Children were taken to the Countess of Chester and Arrowe Park Hospitals, police said.

A total of 58 people, including the driver, were on the school bus involved in a crash on the M53 motorway.

Merseyside Police's Local Policing Superintendent Sabi Kaur said: "This was a truly horrific incident and the impact on this will have been felt far and wide not only in Wirral but across Merseyside.

"Our thoughts are very much with the family and friends of the girl and the bus driver as well as with those who have been impacted by this incident and we will do everything we can to support them in the coming days and weeks.

"We would ask anyone who witnessed the collision or believes they have captured something significant to contact us as a matter of urgency.

"We would also ask the public to avoid speculating on the incident or posting information or images which could be distressing for the families and those involved."

The force said 39 people have been discharged needing no further treatment and another 13 suffered minor injuries and have been released.

It comes after a "major incident" was declared following the collision but the situation has since "de-escalated".

Alder Hey Children's Hospital said: "We've now de-escalated from a major incident, however our A&E remains extremely busy. Please only attend in cases of emergency."

The hospital said anyone with an appointment on Friday should attend as normal.

Witnesses said children were escaping from the back window and were stood on the M53 hard shoulder after the bus crashed.

Scene on the M53 this morning
Scene on the M53 this morning. Picture: Global

The crash involved children from Calday Grange Grammar School and West Kirby Grammar School for girls, according to the local councillor for Upton By Chester, Sherin Akhtar.

Firefighters helped passengers exit the bus, with Mark Thomas, area manager of Merseyside Fire and Rescue service, saying: "Firefighters worked with emergency services colleagues at scene to stabilise the vehicle. We ensured the scene was safe, and we assisted casualties exiting the bus.

"Working jointly with our police and ambulance colleagues, shortly after we were able to assist the casualties onto a second coach to receive care away from the scene.

"Our operations are currently scaling down, and currently we stay at the scene, in attendance, to preserve the scene with Merseyside Police whilst an investigation is conducted.

"The thoughts of everyone at Merseyside Police Fire and Rescue Service are with the friends, the colleagues, and the families of all of those involved in this terrible incident."

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Around 10 police vehicles, four fire engines and five ambulances raced to the area in Merseyside just after 8am. North West Air Ambulance Services also scrambled to the scene, where part of the motorway has been closed entirely.

Merseyside police tweeted: "Emergency services are dealing with an RTC along the M53 junction 5 northbound. Please avoid this area and find an alternative route."

A spokesman for Merseyside Fire and Rescue confirmed their attendance and said there were casualties.

Calday Grammar School in the Wirral has tweeted: "A situation involving one of our school buses on the highway earlier today has come to our attention. 

"If you need to talk or seek guidance, please reach out to our teaching and pastoral teams."

Councillor for Upton by Chester Sherin Akhtar posted a statement on Facebook which reads: "I can confirm and am aware of an accident on the M53 this morning going towards the Wirral/ Birkenhead. 

"It involves a Carvers coach (W3) travelling to Calday Grange Grammar School and West Kirby Grammar school for girls.'Whilst this is a live situation, I would like to assure residents that I am working on their behalf and offer support and will endeavour to update, as soon as possible.

"I am aware that children are being taken to Arrowe Park as precautionary."

A witness who tweeted a photo showing a bus lying on its side wrote: "Crash on the M53 towards Liverpool just after J5. Coach on the side with school kids escaping for the back window.

"Hope all the kids got out ok."

Another said: "Drove past that was awful to see all the kids standing on the hard shoulder."

National Highways Traffic Officers are also on scene providing assistance with traffic management. Merseyside Police contact centre tweeted: "Emergency services are dealing with an RTC along the M53 junction 5 northbound. Please avoid this area and find an alternative route."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "My heart goes out to everyone affected by the tragic accident on the Wirral this morning. Unimaginably sad news."

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