Royston man admits falling asleep at wheel of coach carrying 42 Cambridgeshire schoolchildren which crashed into ditch off A10
- Credit: Matthew Usher
A Royston man has admitted a charge of dangerous driving after his coach carrying 42 Cambridgeshire schoolchildren crashed into a ditch when he fell asleep at the wheel, a court heard today.
Ross Ogilvie had been taking children from William Westley Primary School in Whittlesford on a school trip when he crashed the coach on the A10 near Hilgay in Norfolk.
The 23-year-old, working for Barley-based Richmond’s Coaches, admitted to Norwich Crown Court that he had fallen asleep at the wheel as the coach headed to the Norfolk seaside town of Hunstanton on July 22 last year.
His case was adjourned for sentence on September 11 and Judge Katharine Moore warned him: “It is a serious matter.”
The crash closed the A10 for more than six hours, with the coach one of three travelling in a convoy for the end-of-term trip to the coast.
Children told how they were scared and crying after the coach toppled on to its side, but were kept calm by staff as they were guided off into a nearby field while paramedics treated some for shock and slight injuries.
As parents back at the primary school were sent news of the crash, pupils sang songs in a nearby field while they waited to board a coach back home.
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Ogilvie was cut free and taken to hospital for treatment to back injuries.
Speaking at the time, Year 1 pupil Libby Hull spoke about the crash.
The six-year-old said: “The wheel of the coach hit a rock and then we fell into a ditch and the windscreen smashed.
“My chair was above me and I think I was sort of upside down. It was really scary – people on the other side to me were a bit sad and were crying.”
Libby’s mother, Alex Baraitser, said: “The school made it very clear everyone was fine. The school was fabulous throughout this.
“And I am really proud of all the children because they did so well.”
Emergency services, including four fire engines, attended the scene of the collision.
Terry Hicks, who attended the incident for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “Everyone was very calm and the children were a credit to both their parents and their teachers.
“Fortunately, we believe those on board were wearing seatbelts, otherwise this incident could have been a lot worse.”
Downham Market fire station manager Grant Cotterell praised the ‘absolutely fantastic’ teachers who comforted the children and said it was one of the best examples of joint working he had seen.
He explained how fire crews had built a makeshift bridge over a dyke using boarding given by a local builder to provide access for the emergency services and casualty clearance.
Tesco’s Downham Market store stepped in to help by bringing water and biscuits for the children as they waited to go home.