A fourth passenger was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital, with “life-changing injuries,” according to Surrey Police. The coach, travelling from the music festival in the Isle of Wight, was headed towards the Merseyside area when it collided with an oak tree on the A3 near Hindhead, in Surrey. No other vehicles were involved.
With much of the front of the coach destroyed, 23 people – less than half of the passengers – were left walking wounded. Some were unconscious when taken to hospital, others expected to lose limbs. Survivors were taken to several hospitals nearby the incident: Guildford, Chertsey, Tooting, London and Portsmouth.
Inspector Richard Mallet, of Surrey Police, commented: “The priority is to get the people out of the coach and then we can really begin to look at forwarding the investigation.”
He added: “We don’t think that the road conditions or the weather were a factor in this.”
The MerseyPride coach was over-capacity, carrying 53 passengers instead of 52. Investigators are trying to establish whether the additional passenger was a factor in the tragic incident. The semi-retired driver, 62 year old Colin Daulty, had been working for the company for sixth months prior to the crash – who believes driver fatigue had not played a role, as Daulty had been described as well-rested by his sister, with whom he had been staying in Portsmouth.
The road, one of the busiest in the South, will remain closed for several hours with diversions in place. Motorists are advised to avoid the area until it reopens.