Devon crash victim recalls 'horrific' moment bus tipped over leaving 37 hospitalised

The Stagecoach Gold overturned while travelling between Totnes and Paignton on 5 October 2019. Credit: BPM Media/DevonLive

A woman from Paignton has recalled the horror of the moment a bus she was travelling on overturned and crashed, leaving 37 people in hospital.

Jacqui, 58, was knocked unconscious in the crash after catching the bus to Totnes for a day out on the morning of 5 October 2019.

She woke up to find dozens injured, in what was quickly declared a major incident by emergency services and saw more than 140 police officers, paramedics and firefighters attend.

Thirteen ambulances and four helicopters ferried 37 passengers to hospital. Eight people were seriously injured.

The full list of injuries resulting from the crash:

  • Mary Westley: broken ribs, several displaced

  • Cheryl Russ: a double pelvic fracture, three fractured ribs, a fracture to her left knee, a broken toe and a broken collarbone

  • Gareth Pass: a fracture to his spine, multiple rib fractures

  • Gillian Spackman: multiple left-sided fractures, including seven ribs, a bleed on the brain

  • Robert Ritson: a dislocated left hip, associated nerve damage, facial cuts, fractures to the left side of his pelvis, broken teeth

  • David Duncan: ten fractured ribs, lung damage and fracture to his sternum

  • Susan Ratcliffe: 12 rib fractures, multiple fractures at the base of her spine and pelvis

  • Mary Bailey, injuries to her ribs on both sides of her chest, fractures to her spinal column

  • Zita Delaney, a fractured pelvis and fractures to her left arm;

  • Eammon Delaney, a fractured collarbone.

The bus rolled when the driver sought to stop his hi vis jacket from being sucked out of the window. Credit: BPM Media/DevonLive.

Jacqui now says she feels lucky to be alive. "All I can remember is that the bus veered over to the left side. I heard all the scratching of the hedges. Then I was unconscious," she said.

"I woke up in a daze and people were screaming. I hit my head on the glass - luckily it hadn't broken - and I could see the grass under the window. I wasn't trapped.

"I got up and looked around. People who were on the right had been thrown over to the left hand side and were hurt as they fell.

"I could hear all the screaming. It was horrific."

Jacqui had been sat on the lower deck on left side of the bus, meaning she was not thrown across the vehicle as it tipped. She suffered from concussion but physically had no other serious injuries.

"A man at the front was covered in broken glass. I phoned the emergency services and other people had rung as well," she said.

"Three people on the bottom deck were injured and bleeding - one had a cut in the head and she had to be cut out.

"I am lucky to be alive really but emotionally it will take me a long time to heal."

Four helicopters, thirteen ambulances and more than 140 police officers, firefighters and paramedics attended the crashsite. Credit: BPM Media/DevonLive.

This week, the driver of the coach, Kameron Allen, admitted the charge of careless driving after a charge of dangerous driving was dropped.

Allen, from Paignton, was 19 at the time of the crash. At Plymouth Crown Court, he denied causing serious injury by dangerous driving to 10 passengers.

The court heard he had never driven the route before and was struggling to stop his coat and high vis jacket from being sucked out of the cab window when a tyre went over the verge.

New bollards have been installed along the steeply cambered stretch of road, which locals say is a crash hotspot.

Jacqui continues to be impacted, suffering from post-traumatic stress she said she was reduced to tears after seeing a story about the new bollards.

She said: "Seeing a photograph of that bus lying on its side with the holes cut out in the roof just brought it all back to me. I actually broke down crying when I saw it. The healing process will take a long time."

Jacqui says she is now very wary of travelling on buses or in people's cars.

The driver is due to be sentenced for careless driving on Tuesday July 20.

After the conclusion of the court case, Stagecoach said: "The court has not completed its consideration of the case as sentencing has yet to be determined. As a result, we are unable to comment at this stage."