Tallulah Lyons, a second-year English student at Southampton, studying an Erasmus semester abroad in Barcelona, was injured in a bus crash in Spain which killed 13 and injured 43.
The crash happened near Freginals, 93 miles south of Barcelona, in a spot known as an ‘accidental blackspot’. The bus then hit a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction, injuring two people inside, when the driver “hit the railing on the right and swerved to the left so violently that the bus veered onto the other side of the highway”. Tallulah was sleeping in one of the front passenger seats when the crash happened.
Seven of those killed in the crash were from Italy, Catalonian Interior department director Jordi Jane told reporters, it is believed there are two Germans, one Romanian, one Uzbekistani and an Austrian also amongst the dead.
Tallulah, 19, originally from Swindon, is injured but well, writing on her Facebook page this evening:
Some of you may have seen the news about the coach accident in Spain this morning and unfortunately I was involved in this incident but I’m alive and well with just three broken vertabreas and a broken chest bone but I will make a full recovery. Thanks for your messages and kind words.
Tallulah, who has limited memory of the event, said she was taken to hospital in Tarragon:
I just remember waking up and people were on the floor, I was trying to crawl out with friends – and that’s when we realised some people were trapped. It took about two hours to get everyone out.
My thoughts go out to the victims who haven’t made it. I’ll just be eternally grateful to have survived, and be in a position where I should be able to make a full recovery.
I remember waking up with people screaming. At that point I think we got hit by another car, but I’m not sure, I don’t remember a lot. It took two hours to get everyone out of the bus. It was people who were trapped who died.
I have suspicions I know a few of them. That’s horrible. It was terrifying no one really knew what was going on and it was pitch black. Luckily the emergency services turned up pretty quickly.
My mum is flying in today. And when I’m well enough to fly I’d quite like to be back to recover.
It was several hours before Tallulah managed to contact her family to say she was safe.
I lost my phone in the accident but I managed to make a call to my dad from the hospital saying that I was OK and alive.
Most of the 57 people on board the bus were students on the Erasmus programme who were returning to Barcelona after a trip to a fireworks festival. All of 13 who died were female, and it is thought Tallulah was the only British student on the bus. There were people on the bus from 17 different countries, including Germany, Norway, New Zealand, Ireland, and the Czech Republic.
When in Southampton, Tallulah is a regular DJ on Surge and writes for Wessex Scene. She has just been elected RAG campaigns officer for next year. She was a key player on the committee that organised Surge’s famous 48-hour marathon, which won ‘Best Event’ at the Media Ball and RAG awards, and was nominated for an EVA.
A representative from the University of Southampton told Wessex Scene:
Fortunately Tallulah was the only student from the University of Southampton involved in the incident, and we are very pleased that she is safe and recovering. We have made contact with Tallulah to offer our range of support services.
The driver survived the collision and is being questioned at a local police station, but has tested negatively for both alcohol and drugs, and has worked for the company for 17 years without an accident. A judge has opened a manslaughter investigation for the driver of the bus, but a hearing has been postponed as he is currently in an intensive care unit.
Tallulah’s mother, Karin, 51, a German teacher, said
We would like some answers. The bus driver has lots to answer for and to answer to all these people who lost their kids. There needs to be a proper investigation. Tallulah had a very horrible experience trying to get out of the bus, having to climb over the bodies. She is totally in shock. She has broken several parts of her vertebrae and some bones in her chest and she can’t sit up. We don’t know exactly what happened yet. It took two hours to get everybody out of the bus. She was unconscious.
The Erasmus network, who many of the students were studying with said:
ESN Barcelona would like to convey our condolences and join the pain of the families, friends and relatives of the victims. We feel the deep loss. In the same way, we would like to express our sincere willingness to be as helpful as possible with the family, friends or institutions
Tallulah was blogging her Semester abroad for the English Department’s Mission Employable blogs. Writing for REALIE (Residence and Employment Abroad Leading to International Employability.) at the start of the year she said:
Whilst in Spain, I’ll be studying in the ‘Department of Philology’ and complete the majority of my studies in English. As well as taking Spanish lessons, I hope to integrate myself into Spanish university life as much as possible, make a whole new set of Spanish friends to try and improve my fluency and hopefully come back with an increased appreciation for the Spanish culture and way of living – personally I am most excited about the food, weather and beaches amongst several other things.It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I will be living in Barcelona for half of a year; to say I am excited is an understatement and I am unashamedly counting down the days till I leave!
She wrote a second blog, entitled ‘my first month in Barcelona’ just three days before the accident.
— REALIE (@REALIE_ME) March 17, 2016
SUSU’s seven sabbatical officers have sent Tallulah a card sending her best wishes.
Since the accident, Tallulah has remained in good spirits, taking to social media to thank her ‘incredible’ Mother.
I’ve been overwhelmed with all the support and love I’ve received since the accident, but my biggest thank you goes out to the incredible woman I’m lucky enough to call my mother. She has been by my side through of all this; sleeping next to me at the hospital, dealing with the countless phone calls and paperwork that needs to be sorted, doing everything in her power to provide an alternative to hospital ‘food’ – a no easy task as Spain closes down at every opportunity, wiping away my tears, providing encouragement and just generally being there for me when I needed her most. She’s one of the strongest women I know and I can’t say thank you enough – I love you so so much and this past week has been made bearable with you by my side.
She’s also joked on her Twitter page saying:
“Amazing that my phone survived the accident better than I did…not a scratch or break in sight”
“Can confirm that FOMO is a real thing that exists, and is intensified when one cannot move”
“Further proof that I have too much hair – been harbouring glass and rocks in there for a week without even realising”
Wessex Scene’s thoughts are with Tallulah and her family and family, and we are wishing her a very speedy recovery. If you’ve been affected by this story, please contact the Advice centre on 023 8059 2085 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.