M5 crash leaves coach passenger dead and 39 others hurt

One person died and 39 others were hurt when a coach and lorry crashed on the M5 in the West Midlands.

The motorway was shut after the collision in foggy conditions on the southbound carriageway, between junctions 3 and 4 at 06:24 GMT.

Police said a 35-year-old man from Birmingham, who was on the coach, had died.

The lorry driver, from the south west of England, and another coach passenger, are in a critical condition.

Worried parents

West Midlands Ambulance Service said it had treated 40 adults at the scene.

Twenty-seven of the injured were transferred to nearby hospitals including Queen Elizabeth Hospital and City Hospital in Birmingham, Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Sandwell Hospital.

The road has now reopened northbound.

Ch Insp Carl Flynn, of the Central Motorway Police Group, said the coach had broken down in a "live" lane of the M5 before the accident.

Addressing a news conference at a Highways Agency control centre near the crash scene, Mr Flynn said a 999 call had been made by a member of the public, reporting the stranded coach about 12 minutes before the crash.

He said: "At 6:12am, a 999 call was made by a concerned member of the public about a coach having broken down on lane one of the M5 south.

"The Highways Agency did the appropriate signage on the network and dispatched their resources to the scene of the broken down coach as is normal practice.

"However, unfortunately at 6:24 hours a further call was received to say that a large goods vehicle had collided into the rear of the coach.

"Motorway police officers were immediately dispatched and arrived at the scene six minutes later and then assisted colleagues from the Highways Agency, the ambulance service and fire service to manage the scene."

Thirty four passengers - men and women - were on board the coach, which was going from the Birmingham area to a place of work.

Police said they had been receiving calls from worried parents and wanted to stress that no children were involved in the crash.

'Quite horrendous'

The crash happened on a section of the motorway where roadworks are being carried out.

The southbound side of the motorway remains shut and police said it was unlikely to reopen until the end of the day "at the earliest".

Eyewitness Paul Guppy said: "I was driving past this at about twenty to seven.

"I was going north and on the south side, just after junction 3, there was a single-decker bus mounted up against the crash barrier with a lorry wedged into the back of it.

"And it completely blocked the whole three lanes.

"There were fog patches, because I was driving through it with my fog lights on.

"That area is renowned for heavy fog... it was quite horrendous at the time."

Steve Wheaton from, West Midlands Ambulance Service, said the outcome could have been far worse.

He said: "The weather this morning has not been in our favour, in that it was very, very foggy at the time the incident occurred.

"Fortunately, in many ways, whilst we have had a fatality and some serious injuries, the motorway was reasonably quiet at that time in the morning, so further loss of life or serious casualties may have been avoided."

West Midlands Police advised drivers to travel on the M6 and M42 to avoid the M5.

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites