Western Daily Press

Fear probe into coach crash that injured pupils may be closed

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AN investigat­ion into a coach crash that left nearly 50 pupils from a West school injured is in danger of being closed without any answers.

Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has said he is “deeply disappoint­ed” after receiving news that an investigat­ion into the Bournside School coach crash could be closed.

On July 23, 2016, the Express Motors coach crashed into a ditch on a French motorway near the Swiss border. It left 15 people injured, including two pupils seriously injured, one of whom was in a coma.

An investigat­ion into the crash, which began in 2016 and involved pupils from the school in the Gloucester­shire town, has been recommende­d to be closed by French authoritie­s.

Mr Chalk said the news comes as a “bitter blow” to the students and teachers who were affected.

Writing in the Gloucester­shire Echo Mr Chalk said: “Although the final decision rests with the public prosecutor, it seems likely that the probe will be wound up shortly.

“This informatio­n, which came from the Foreign Office in response to my latest inquiry to the French authoritie­s, comes as a bitter blow.

“I am deeply disappoint­ed by it, on behalf of the students and teachers who I know continue to be affected by what happened that day. They rightly want answers.”

Headmaster for Cheltenham Bournside School Steve Jefferies said in a statement: “We are disappoint­ed by the decision made by the French authoritie­s to close the inquiry”.

In his column, Mr Chalk added:

“Initial police investigat­ions suggested that driver fatigue may have played a part, and in 2017 the driver of the bus was handed a six-week ban by a UK tribunal from carrying passengers, for failing to take a sufficient break before setting off for Italy.

“As for the French proceeding­s, these were opened promptly but have since made little apparent progress.

“I have asked for consular officials at the British Consulate in Marseille to continue to keep me updated.”

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