Coach driver, 23, admits in court to falling asleep at the wheel of coach carrying 42 children from Cambridgeshire to day out at Hunstanton
- Credit: Matthew Usher
A coach driver admitted dangerous driving after his coach carrying 42 schoolchildren crashed into a ditch off the A10 near Downham Market when he fell asleep at the wheel, a court heard.
The children from William Westley Primary School, in Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire, were on a school trip to Hunstanton, when Norwich Crown Court heard the bus crashed near Hilgay after driver Ross Ogilvie, 23, fell asleep.
Martin Ivory, prosecuting, said that Ogilvie accepted he had fallen asleep while driving the vehicle.
Ogilvie, from Royston, admitted dangerous driving on July 22, last year.
His case was adjourned for sentence on September 11 and Judge Katharine Moore warned him: “It is a serious matter.”
The crash closed the A10 for more than six hours and the coach was one of three travelling in a convoy.
The bus was in a convoy of three taking youngsters for an end-of-term trip to the coast when the crash happened.
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Children told how they were scared and crying after the coach toppled on to its side but were kept calm by staff as they were guided off into a nearby field while paramedics treated some for shock and slight injuries.
As parents back at William Westley Primary School in Whittlesford, near Cambridge, were sent news of the crash, pupils sang songs in a nearby field while they waited to board a coach back home.
The bus driver was cut free and taken to hospital for treatment to back injuries.
The road was closed by ¬emergency services for six hours.
Year 1 pupil Libby Hull, six, spoke about the crash.
Libby said: “The wheel of the coach hit a rock and then we fell into a ditch and the windscreen smashed.
“My chair was above me and I think I was sort of upside down. It was really scary; people on the other side to me were a bit sad and were crying.”
Libby’s mother, Alex Baraitser, said: “The school made it very clear everyone was fine.
“The school was fabulous throughout this.
“And I am really proud of all the children because they did so well.”
Emergency services, including four fire engines, attended the scene of the collision.
Terry Hicks, who attended the incident for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “Everyone was very calm and the children were a credit to both their parents and their teachers.
“Fortunately, we believe those on board were wearing seatbelts, otherwise this incident could have been a lot worse.”
Downham Market fire station manager Grant Cotterell praised the “absolutely fantastic” ¬teachers who comforted the children and said it was one of the best ¬examples of joint working he had seen.
He told how fire crews built a makeshift bridge over a dyke using boarding given by a local builder to provide access for the emergency services and casualty clearance.
Tesco’s Downham Market store stepped in to help by bringing water and biscuits for the ¬children as they waited to go home.