Driver held over fatal coach crash

Witney Gazette: A police spokesman said a major incident had been declared A police spokesman said a major incident had been declared

The driver of a coach that crashed today killing two women has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

The coach was carrying more than 50 passengers on what is believed to be an Age Concern trip to the popular seaside town of Looe when it careered into a hedge on the A387 at Morval, at around 1pm, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

A woman died at the scene while a second woman was taken by air ambulance to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth but was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

Seven other passengers were seriously injured and four walking wounded were also treated after the coach crashed on the winding road, a South West Ambulance Service (SWAS) spokesman said.

Police arrested the driver, a 57 year-old man from Exeter, this afternoon and he has been taken into custody at Launceston police station.

A police spokesman said: " Police investigating the fatal coach collision can confirm the driver of the coach, a 57 year-old man from Exeter, has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He has been taken into police custody at Launceston.

"The bus was operated by Carmel and police believe it was being used for a trip organised by Age Concern from Exmouth."

Photographs taken at the scene show some of the coach's distinctive blue and red seats lying across the road.

Three air ambulances, one from Cornwall and two from Devon, flew to the crash site to tend to the passengers.

All seven seriously injured were taken to Derriford Hospital, while other p assengers were taken to a nearby village hall where four walking wounded were treated and tea and coffee was handed out.

Roberta Powley, who lives in the nearby village of No Man's Land, said she had been told the coach had been taking pensioners on a trip to Looe when it crashed near the Snooty Fox country hotel.

Mrs Powley said: "I think they were all OAPs on a trip. they were heading down to Looe. They have opened up what used to be the Memorial Hall in Morval and giving them tea and coffee.

"I was told the coach crashed at the Snooty Fox, and that is up a very steep hill going down into Looe."

The coach was travelling towards Looe from the direction of Plymouth, between Sandplace and Widegates, when it crashed.

Carmel Coaches' website was down this evening, but in a statement posted on it the company said: "Carmel Coaches extends our deepest sympathies to those involved in today's accident.

"We are co-operating with the authorities in the investigation of this tragic event."

Devon Air Ambulance tweeted a message of condolence to those injured.

They posted: "O ur 2 helicopters have taken patient each from major coach rtc this afternoon near#Looe to @derriford_hosp thoughts with all involved sb."

Steve Dace, chief officer at Age Concern Exmouth, said the crash was a "tragic day" for the organisation and sent his sympathies to those injured in it.

He said: " Today has been a tragic and devastating day for all of us at Age Concern Exmouth. The trustees, staff and volunteers' thoughts are all with the relatives of the deceased.

"Our sympathy and thoughts go to everyone on the trip who will have suffered injury or shock at being involved in such an accident."

He said the coach trip was arranged by the charity, but it was not solely for Age Concern members and was open to any member of the public over the age of 50 who wanted to go.

He added: " We have been using the coach company involved for a number of years and they have an excellent reputation. They have done all they can to support those involved in the accident.

"Help has been offered from our local social services and hospital service teams."

He urged anyone who wanted to get in contact with Age Concern Exmouth to call them on on 01395 271242.

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