Berkshire

M4 fatal school bus crash lorry driver 'had seconds to react'

L-R: Jason Aleixo, Lorraine MacLellan, Catherine Gardiner Image copyright Family photos
Image caption Jason Aleixo, Lorraine MacLellan and Catherine Gardiner had been travelling with young people from Prior's Court School

A lorry driver involved in a fatal crash with a school minibus on the M4 has told an inquest he had "about two seconds" to react.

Graham Scivier said the bus suddenly appeared on the road before him.

Three members of teaching staff from Priors Court School were killed in the crash near Newbury on 11 October.

Jason Aleixo, Lorraine MacLellan and Catherine Gardiner specialised in working with young people with autism at the school in Thatcham, Berkshire.

Two other adult staff were seriously hurt, but the students onboard escaped with minor injuries.

Mr Scivier told the hearing at Reading Town Hall his view of the bus had been blocked by another HGV which had pulled in front of him after overtaking.

He said the other lorry driver had not cut him up or caused him to slow down but seconds later it pulled out again, revealing the minibus just metres ahead.

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Media captionAerial footage shows the scene of the crash involving a minibus and lorry

Mr Scivier said he was driving at around 52mph and "stamped on the brakes" but was unable to avoid crashing into the back of the school bus.

The inquest heard at that the time the section of hard shoulder where the minibus apparently got into difficulties was cordoned off with a solid metal barrier.

"The minibus was stopped, completely stationary. I literally had about two seconds to react," Mr Scivier said.

He said did not recall seeing any brake lights or hazard lights on the school vehicle.

'Shake and judder'

The inquest also heard from Priors Court School staff member Svilen Mihof, a front seat passenger of the minibus who was injured in the crash.

He described how shortly before the collision the minibus had started to shake and judder and Miss Gardiner, who was driving, called out "Oh my God, oh my God".

"The speed started to go down very fast, it looked like some sort of problem with the engine or the brakes," he said.

The inquest is expected to conclude on Thursday.

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