South East Wales

Maesteg school minibus death 'accident waiting to happen'

Ashley Talbot Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ashley Daniel Talbot, 15, died at the scene

Concerns had been raised about safety at a school in Bridgend county where a boy was later hit and killed by a minibus, an inquest has heard.

Ashley Talbot, 15, died at Maesteg Comprehensive School in December 2014 after a crash with a minibus driven by teacher Chris Brooks.

Mr Brooks was questioned by police but no action was taken.

Regular bus driver Hedley Williams told the inquest on Wednesday it had been an "accident waiting to happen".

The jury was shown CCTV footage of distressed children who saw the collision outside the school.

Image caption The minibus was taken away from the school after Ashley's death

A statement from school bus driver Mr Williams said a lack of space in the parking bay meant two of the buses had to wait on the other side of the road.

The end of the school day was a "free-for-all" with children running across the road, the jury heard.

Mr Williams said he had raised concerns about safety but felt he had not been listened to.

"I approached teachers about it but they just shrugged their shoulders. I got the impression I needed to keep quiet as I was only a bus driver," he told the inquest.

He said that days before Ashley died, two pupils had walked in front of a minibus causing it to brake sharply.

Mr Williams said the bus bay had now been extended and there was a lockdown in vehicle movements at the end of the day.

'Safe speed'

In a statement to the inquest, Mr Brooks said he was travelling at a "safe and appropriate speed" on the day of the crash.

He said he saw something "appear very quickly" as Ashley and another boy emerged from between the buses.

He added: "Instantaneously there was a bang as an object hit the Peugeot. I saw it was a male pupil I recognised.

"In the same instant I heard a second bang, the passenger side rose up. I prayed it was (the first boy's) bag. There were milliseconds between the bangs. I braked hard and as quickly as I could."

PC Christopher Street, who conducted a forensic investigation of the scene, said minibus driver Mr Brooks would have had "less than a second to react" after Ashley and his friend ran out in front of the minibus.

The minibus was travelling between 14 and 17mph before the collision, PC Street told the jury.

A tunnel effect created by buses on both side of the road would have restricted Mr Brooks' view and there was no evidence to suggest the driver had been distracted.

PC Street said Ashley may have fallen as he tried to stop running.

The inquest continues.

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