Weekend coach incidents hit the headlines

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Two incidents involving coaches hit the national news headlines on Saturday.

In the first one, a Travelmasters tri-axle double-decker Berkhof coach collided with an Audi car which was on the hardshoulder of the M1 between junctions 12 and 13, near Flitwick, Bedfordshire at about 0645hrs.

Bedfordshire Police said in a statement: “Three men in the car were pronounced dead at the scene and a fourth man was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, with serious injuries. No one in the coach, which was travelling from Kent, was hurt.”

The coach driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and taken to Luton police station for questioning. He has been released on unconditional bail, but must return to Bedfordshire Police headquarters in Kempston in May.

Tim Lambkin, director of Sheerness-based Travelmasters, told BBC News: “It is too soon to comment on the causes of what happened – we have to let the police experts do their work. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families of those who died and the man hurt. “In the 31 years I’ve been involved in the company I’ve never known anything like this.”

In a separate incident on Saturday evening, 39 passengers on a National Holidays trip to Disneyland Paris had a lucky escape when their coach caught fire in a motorway crash after it was involved in a collision with two HGVs.

Two people travelling in the lorries died in the crash on the A1 in Oise, near Paris.

A spokesperson for the Shearings-owned firm said: “The incident in France was clearly a frightening episode for those involved but all passengers from the coach left the vehicle safely and were unharmed.

“Two other individuals from other vehicles involved did unfortunately lose their lives despite the best efforts of the French emergency services. Our thoughts are with their families.

“Our own team has worked through the night to get passengers to their destination at Disneyland Paris and provide options for them to return home or continue with their holiday, providing funds and helping to supply replacement clothing for those families whose luggage was damaged.  At the moment, the majority of the 39 passengers have opted to stay in Disneyland.

“Such incidents are, thankfully, rare and we will be working closely with French investigators to establish the facts over the coming days.”