Bestival coach crash: Three bodies removed from Surrey scene

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Media captionThe coach crashed into a tree near Hindhead Tunnel

The bodies of three people killed in a coach crash in Surrey have been removed from the wreckage.

The coach hit a tree on the A3 near Hindhead Tunnel at 23:50 BST on Monday en-route to Merseyside from a music festival on the Isle of Wight.

The driver was among those killed, and 50 passengers aged 22 to 28 were also injured, some seriously, police said. There were 53 people on board.

Many of the injured have since been discharged from several hospitals.

The coach was carrying people returning from the Bestival festival on the Isle of Wight, when it crashed between the tunnel and Thursley exit.

Insp Richard Mallett said the vehicle had sustained a "significant impact".

"I understand the road was dry. We cannot see any reason that the road conditions would have had any effect on what occurred," he said.

Witness Craig Nugent, who was driving behind the coach when it veered off the road, said hearing the cries of the injured had deeply affected him.

Image caption The northbound carriageway of the A3 near Hindhead remains closed

"It's harrowing, it's the most horrific thing I've ever heard in my life," he said.

"Never witnessed anything like that, and I'm just hoping that I never have to again."

He said when he phoned the police, he was told to keep away from the vehicle until they arrived.

"Your natural reaction is to go and try and help these people, but you're just being told that that's not the thing that you can do, because it's an unlit stretch of road and I could have added to the scene and the carnage really," he said.

One person was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital with life-changing injuries, police said.

Eight more were treated at St George's Hospital and Kings College Hospital in London and East Grinstead Hospital in West Sussex.

Officials at Ashford and St Peter's Hospital in Surrey said staff coped well as they treated 23 of the injured.

'Heartfelt sympathy'

Medical director David Fluck said: "We were positioned further away from the incident than some of the other hospitals so the casualties were mainly the walking wounded and in fact we have been able to treat most of these."

He said most patients had been discharged but one or two more seriously injured remained.

The coach is operated by Merseypride Travel, which has been working with police to help identify passengers and notify relatives.

The company's owner David Hannell said: "Myself and the company offer our heartfelt sympathy to all the families of the passengers involved."

He said the coach driver was semi-retired and had been with the company for six months.

"He was ideal for us because his sister lived in Portsmouth so he had somewhere to stay," he said.

"So it wasn't as if he had to drive down the day before, he was already there and according to his sister he was well rested."

He said this was the firm's first serious accident in 20 years.

The road was closed in both directions and Surrey Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue and South East Coast Ambulance Service attended the scene, along with crash investigators.

The southbound carriageway was reopened at about 09:00 BST.

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