South Shields FC supporters 'traumatised' as minibus overturns several times in A1 crash

Gregg Easteal has been finding out the latest on a crash in which wounded football fans apparently battled to pull others to safety before emergency crews arrived

Football fans have described feeling like they were in a "human washing machine" as the minibus they were travelling in flipped several times in a crash on the A1.

A total of 17 South Shields supporters were taken to hospital following the collision near junction 40 in West Yorkshire, which involved the Iris minibus and A black Skoda Fabia.

They were heading home from a game against Tamworth in the Vanarama National League North when it happened at around 7pm on Saturday (13 April).

Of those admitted, 15 have now left hospital, while two have been kept in as a precaution.

The fans still in hospital are said to have suffered broken bones, but their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

The club's sporting director, Lee Picton, told ITV Tyne Tees the fans had sustained a range of injuries from broken bones to "nasty cuts", but it was "incredible" they were not more seriously harmed.

"I think anybody that's seen the pictures and the video of the wreckage can see that it has been incredible that nobody has been more seriously hurt," he said.

"I know that feeling is felt most by those that have been in the crash who themselves feel incredibly lucky in some cases to come away relatively scot-free from a physical perspective."

Lee Picton, sporting director for the club, said it was fortunate no one was more seriously hurt. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

However, Mr Picton said those involved had been deeply affected by the crash and the mental recovery would be a focus for the club.

"A lot of them described it as like being in a human washing machine," he said. "The vehicle has overturned a number of times.

"You can only try to imagine how they felt physically and mentally during the incident itself and afterwards."

He continued: "One thing that is consistent across everybody that's been involved is the emotional trauma that's been suffered. It's obviously a really traumatic experience.

"That's become evident in the conversations that we've had personally with the fans that have been in the accident that we've had this morning."

All emergency services including the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YSA) were at the scene - with the service saying it was under "extreme pressure" because of the crash.

Emergency services attended the crash on the A1 - prompting Yorkshire Ambulance Service to declare it was under 'extreme pressure'. Credit: YapApp

Robert Reed, a supporter and former employee of the club, was onboard the bus and recalled how he was "one of the lucky ones", having been thrown out the vehicle himself.

He battled with others to help get other passengers to safety.

"In a nutshell, I personally was thrown out of one of the windows," he posted on Facebook.

"The impact my body caused when hitting the window caused it to smash, sending me flying onto the road. When I stood up, I gave myself a quick pat down and rang 999 immediately.

"I explained everything that had happened and I noticed some people were still trapped inside the flipped bus.

"After flagging down several strangers passing by, we banded together to lift the bus up, making it easier for some of the other passengers to make their escape swiftly and safely."

Mr Picton said the crash had also had a big impact on the team, whose bus was not far behind the supporters.

He said: "The team bus was only a matter of minutes behind and they've actually taken a diversion to avoid the traffic that was built up but at the time had no idea what the cause of that was.

"Then when news started filtering back a few minutes later via social media to some of the players and some of the staff it created a very sombre atmosphere."

J40 at Darrington and J41 of the M62 remained closed until Sunday morning. Credit: YappApp

Mr Picton said the club's community spirit and friendship shone through following the crash - with the wider base offering to drive down to support fellow fans.

A partner of the club, Impact North East, has also offered free counselling sessions for those directly involved.

"There's been a concerted effort from all of them to help each other where they can to help in the aftermath of the accident," he said.

Mr Reed thanked those who came to his aid, posting: "Faith in humanity is restored."

He also wrote: "What I would like to ask is that you all, both the SSFC and wider football communities, stick together and show support towards my friends and fellow passengers.

"The hardest battles we’ll be facing in the future will no doubt be those mental struggles."

The final game of the season is due to take place this weekend, with plans already underway to have some sort of reception for the supporters involved in the crash.

"We all want to pull together and support those who people most affected as much as we can," added Mr Picton.

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